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AMCrenshaw
06-08-2009, 12:12 PM
Martin Luther King, Jr. the Baptist; Thomas Merton the Trappist; Dorothy Day, Peter Maurin, and Ammon Hennacy the Catholic Workers, Fritz Eichenberg, the Quaker; Tom Lewis, the Berrigan brothers, the Catonsville Nine; and Jacques Loew, the French Worker-Priest.


What in common did they give to God and humankind? What in particular distinguished their spiritualities or what in particular united their spiritualities?

We cannot say faith in Christ only for we know divinity wasn't the same for all of them, with varying degrees of superstitiousness, for lack of a better term. I'd assert it's their social practice that unites them spiritually. We see the effects of a common, invisible agent (a relationship), a sacrament. And the commonality was that they were the sacrament.




AMC

Gehanna
06-08-2009, 04:31 PM
Hello AMCrenshaw,

You wrote social practice. Do you mean that to be the same as love for others or something else?

Interesting post.

Sincerely,
Gehanna

Higgins
06-08-2009, 04:37 PM
Martin Luther King, Jr. the Baptist; Thomas Merton the Trappist; Dorothy Day, Peter Maurin, and Ammon Hennacy the Catholic Workers, Fritz Eichenberg, the Quaker; Tom Lewis, the Berrigan brothers, the Catonsville Nine; and Jacques Loew, the French Worker-Priest.


What in common did they give to God and humankind? What in particular distinguished their spiritualities or what in particular united their spiritualities?

We cannot say faith in Christ only for we know divinity wasn't the same for all of them, with varying degrees of superstitiousness, for lack of a better term. I'd assert it's their social practice that unites them spiritually. We see the effects of a common, invisible agent (a relationship), a sacrament. And the commonality was that they were the sacrament.




AMC

They were the sacrament? In my youthful anthropological days, I would have thought of that as Shamanism: a specific set of rituals/social actions that brings the sacred into play via an actor in a very focused way.

AMCrenshaw
06-08-2009, 11:38 PM
You wrote social practice. Do you mean that to be the same as love for others or something else?

It's about how they loved others, I suppose, and how similarly and immediately.



In my youthful anthropological days, I would have thought of that as Shamanism: a specific set of rituals/social actions that brings the sacred into play via an actor in a very focused way.

And I think that's what it is.

I connect that to the fact that 1) most of their later lives were in volunteer poverty, 2) they lived in a kind of neo-primitivism, 3) They were each others' spirit guides, those that knew of one another, and wrote to each other often.





AMC

AMCrenshaw
06-10-2009, 12:13 AM
A good modern example is Shane Claiborne (http://www.thesimpleway.org/shane/) -- he lives in volunteer poverty as a mercy house worker. He's written a couple of books about his experiences; one with Mother Teresa, which is I think a unique glimpse into her later life and how the threads are passed from past to present. In Philadelphia as well there are the Psalters, who, again, offer themselves an their music as sacraments-- they too lead a nomadic life of volunteer poverty.

I am skeptical of some movements, though. It seems this kind of sacramental theology is more ingrained in pop (http://www.myspace.com/brandtishollywood) culture than I would have initially suspected. On that myspace site, there are plenty of catch-phrases (one is "Adopt a Jesus") among an archive-feverish tendency to film oneself in Christian-Action. That Christian-Action is "hanging out" with the homeless people while filming their developing attachments. It strikes me in a lot of different ways, some at first hostile, some at last plainly confused by the message.



AMC

girlyswot
06-25-2009, 02:13 AM
We cannot say faith in Christ only for we know divinity wasn't the same for all of them, with varying degrees of superstitiousness, for lack of a better term. I'd assert it's their social practice that unites them spiritually. We see the effects of a common, invisible agent (a relationship), a sacrament. And the commonality was that they were the sacrament.

That doesn't sound like a normal definition of sacrament to me. What do you think it means?

AMCrenshaw
06-25-2009, 07:24 AM
Their volunteer poverty is "a rite in which God is uniquely active" (quoted from wiki). I imagine the "invisible reality" is that God is gracious. That truth is expressed in what I think are social practices-- mercy houses, political activism, communal, urban gardening. That where God is present among humankind there is compassion.

It's shamanistic in the exact sense Higgins mentioned above.


AMC

Higgins
06-25-2009, 04:40 PM
Their volunteer poverty is "a rite in which God is uniquely active" (quoted from wiki). I imagine the "invisible reality" is that God is gracious. That truth is expressed in what I think are social practices-- mercy houses, political activism, communal, urban gardening. That where God is present among humankind there is compassion.

It's shamanistic in the exact sense Higgins mentioned above.


AMC

It's possible that the opposition (note: the terms are opposed not necessarily the social practice and so on) between priestly sacrament and shamanistic shaman suggests a lot more flexibility and practicality in religious action than the average middle class Westerner is likely to have much awareness of...My second model religion after Roman Catholicism is "Navaho Religion" (as reconstructed in the "Anthropological Present" by do-gooders from 1870-1970). In that tradition there are various shamanistic seers who work collaboratively under a Singer, who is not a shaman and not a priest, but something of an expert in repairing the results of broken taboos. Note that Shaman is not a term from North America (and neither is taboo or Mammoth), so it actually doesn't necessarily exactly fit with even the reconstructed version of Navaho Religion.

johnnysannie
06-25-2009, 11:10 PM
That doesn't sound like a normal definition of sacrament to me. What do you think it means?

Behind the official seven sacraments of the Catholic faith, the Catholic definition of what a sacrament is and what is does is that it is a vehicle that delivers grace. By this broader definition, a sacrament becomes many things, including living a simple life of volunteer poverty doing good because the inate response of such a life is to bring good (and grace) into the lives of others.

Melisande
06-27-2009, 07:44 AM
I'd agree on their social consciousness. I might have to disagree on their spirituality, though.

And, please, before you scold me, be aware that I am an atheist, not believing in spiritual stuff. I have a deep respect for spiritual beings, but I sometimes question people who claim to have a 'spiritual' reason for their engagement in various political issues.

I believe that it might sometimes be beneficiary to whomever revolutionary person to claim that he/she is on a suitable God's errand.

I also believe that personal gain might sometimes cloud a so called 'spiritual reason' for whatever demonstration of equality, especially racial ones.

I firmly believe that all creatures are 'created' equal. I see no reason to suppose otherwise. I do, however, nourish a firm doubt in general as to carreer-peoples motives. And, let's face it; most people quoted in media have one thing in common; their carreers and the money that comes with it.

Therefore I pose the question; was it about sacramental theology, or was it about personal gain that made some activists stand out in our minds? Was there generation gluttons for ideologies? Or did the 'BIG' spiritual names really have something new and innovative to say to the human kind that it had never heard before? And, if so, was it ever presented without any kind of personal gain to match the uncomfortable message?

I realize that these opinoins wlll be perceived as controversial, especially to believers. I wish to remind all of you, though, that religion has a history of politics connected to it, and that this history has almost always been connected to sacrifice, blood and murder in the name of whatever 'God' was convenient at the time.

Ruv Draba
06-28-2009, 03:56 PM
In the broadest definition I can muster, I see sacrament as a ritual that makes a mundane activity or state into a sacred one. By sacred I mean 'protected by taboo'. In a sacred state there are things that one must not do, or things that one must do. [People also speak of sacred states as being endowed with 'grace' or 'divinity', but it's hard to explain what those mean to someone like me who doesn't understand grace or believe in divinity, whereas anyone can understand taboo.]

While the Roman Catholic church numbers seven sacraments, in practice there may be many more. Some sacraments appear around certain states in many cultures (rituals around birth, fertility, marriage, illness and death for example, rituals around eating or drinking). Many transitions from being a follower to being a leader have a sacrament (Can you think of a Western European leader who didn't have an Annointing of some sort on assuming power?) Islam has numerous sacraments, for example. Travel can be sanctified, ablutions or sneezing can be sanctified and there are prescribed sacraments for each of these.

To define being a 'living sacrament' then, I interpret that to mean to live life by ritual and taboo. Shamans, yogis, monks, nuns and some martial arts devotees live this way. Some ordinary people do so too, to some degree -- if we look closely at the lives of some more dedicated sports-people, actors and musicians it's often hard to see what's sacrament and what's not.

Whether such a living sacrament is respected by others is a separate question. It perhaps depends on what you're brought up with. There is a strong sacramental aspect to the Unification Church (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unification_Church) (aka 'Moonies'), but it's not well respected outside its membership.

Perhaps all we can say is that if we respect the person we'll often respect any rituals and taboos. Perhaps we'll even feel awe for them. But I think it's also true that one person's sacrament is another's Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder -- as with the Moonies. It's also true that we can have great reverence for someone who has virtually no rituals or taboos. The only conclusion I can draw is that we shouldn't confuse rite with reputation.

Higgins
06-29-2009, 06:23 PM
[People also speak of sacred states as being endowed with 'grace' or 'divinity', but it's hard to explain what those mean to someone like me who doesn't understand grace or believe in divinity, whereas anyone can understand taboo.]

If you can understand taboo, the rest is easy. Taboo is the violation of a boundary and that boundary is what marks what can potentially be the sacred.
But, a boundary can be crossed in different ways. For example, in the world of the Navajo (in the "anthropologically reconstructed present"), it is assumed that there are so many taboos (but note the flip side, the world is so dense with the potentially sacred) that you are always violating them, but that only certain violations make you sick. So, you can have general preventative ceremonies or you can have a shaman find what taboo you violated. The shaman then advises you on what ceremonies you might need and you have to go to a Singer for those. The Singer puts together a ceremonial performance that combines dangerous taboo elements in such a way as to put you out of taboo violation (by using some taboo/dangerous stuff to counter-act the other taboo stuff)...and for a moment you cross the taboo boundary into the realm of the sacred, but not as a violator, but as a sacred being. Then you are brought back out and restored to your more or less normal place in the world.

Ruv Draba
06-29-2009, 11:35 PM
in the world of the Navajo (in the "anthropologically reconstructed present"), it is assumed that there are so many taboos (but note the flip side, the world is so dense with the potentially sacred) that you are always violating them, but that only certain violations make you sick.
While I agree that the sacred is marked by taboo, not every taboo need make something sacred (and perhaps that's what you meant by 'potentially'). It's a Romany tradition that a menstruating woman mustn't step over a stream for instance. Does that make the menstruation sacred, or the stream? Probably neither. Likewise with walking under a ladder in European folklore. Some taboos contaminate you -- make you less sacred. In other taboos you are the contaminant.

AMCrenshaw
07-09-2009, 01:32 AM
While I agree that the sacred is marked by taboo, not every taboo need make something sacred (and perhaps that's what you meant by 'potentially'). It's a Romany tradition that a menstruating woman mustn't step over a stream for instance. Does that make the menstruation sacred, or the stream? Probably neither. Likewise with walking under a ladder in European folklore. Some taboos contaminate you -- make you less sacred. In other taboos you are the contaminant.

Shouldn't we distinguish taboos from superstition about now? Or, were they once taboos and are only now considered superstitions...

AMC