Advent is all about pregnancy. And if any religion honors pregnancy, it would be Goddess spirituality, don’t you think? If I could go back to myself, circa seven years ago, I might say this: “Enjoy your first Advent as a Catholic. But keep it grounded. Anchor it in the good earth, the silence of the soil, the pulsing heartbeat within all living flesh. The only Advent worth celebrating is an earthy Advent, just as the only spirituality worth practicing is an earthy spirituality.”
We need to be telling the truth. Harming the environment is not just “wrong” or “bad.” It’s evil. It is suicidal. It is evidence of a profound sickness within the human condition. It is sinful, it is blasphemy, that we persist in harming our environment in greedy and hyperconsumptive ways. Many non-Christians will recoil at this emphatic religious language, I know; and many Christians, lacking Hildegard’s prophetic vision, will simply be unable to accept the idea that despoiling the environment is sinful, let alone a form of blasphemy. Well, forgive me for taking an unpopular position here, but I have to be true to the dictates of my own conscience, even though I recognize, with sorrow and humility, that I am party to this global dynamic of the blaspheming of nature.
We continue our in-depth review of John Michael Greer’s new book, Mystery Teachings from the Living Earth: An Introduction to Spiritual Ecology, with an exploration of the last three principles of spiritual ecology, as well as some intense discussion about magic and initiation from an ecological perspective. What can we learn from ecology as a “science of systems” about the deep spiritual truths that guide our lives? Why do Greer’s explanations of the Laws of Cause and Effect, Planes and Evolution miss out on some key insights? How does magic really work, anyway? We explore those questions and more in the second part of this exclusive FF&C Pro two-part special.
On the first Sunday in October, the Pope will declare Hildegard of Bingen a “Doctor of the Church” — a fancy title meaning, basically, that her writings are considered exemplary sources of Catholic theology and doctrine. Hildegard and an obscure Spanish mystic will get this honor this fall, and will be only the 34th and 35th persons to be so named in all of Catholicism. Most of the Doctors of the Church are obscure theologians, folks like Gregory Nazianzus or Peter Damian or Lawrence of Brindisi. Others are more recognizable: Thomas Aquinas, the Venerable Bede, and Augustine of Hippo are all members of this rather exclusive club. Before 1970, no woman had ever been declared a Doctor of the Church; Hildegard will be the fourth to receive the title, after Teresa of Avila, Catherine of Siena, and Thérèse of Lisieux — all mystics, which is not surprising since throughout most of church history women rarely were recognized as theologians unless they were seen as mystics, that is to say, as visionaries who insisted that their authority as theologians and spiritual teachers came directly from God.
We take a look at John Michael Greer’s new book, Mystery Teachings from the Living Earth: An Introduction to Spiritual Ecology, with an in-depth review of his Seven Laws of Spiritual Ecology. What can we learn from ecology as a “science of systems” about the deep spiritual truths that guide our lives? How do we embody the Laws of Wholeness, Flow, Balance and Limit in our spiritual practice? We explore those questions and more in the first part of this exclusive FF&C Pro two-part special.
I grew up in the woods. I would come home from school, drop off my books, and immediately disappear into the acres of wooded park across the street from my house until dinner. I knew every inch of those trails, all of the oldest trees, which berries I could eat and which leaves would give me a rash. I would watch hawks hunt and squirrels gather and deer pace cautiously through the underbrush. Just before dinner, I’d spend five minutes in the bathroom scrubbing dirt and sweat and sometimes blood from my hands and face. It was magic, it made my life magical, and it put me in touch with something beyond myself but also immediate, at my fingertips, just behind the green and across the creek. I sensed a certain kind of potential there, the edges of that false boundary we’ve created between us and Nature and a way to pass over it or through it and experience the Other Side.
We explore the infinitely awe-inspiring natural world with a reading of Alison’s article, “The Seven Wonders of the Natural World in Your Own Backyard.” The New Seven Wonders of Nature were announced last year by the New7Wonders Foundation, honoring places such as Vietnam’s Ha Long Bay and Table Mountain of South Africa, but you don’t have to travel around the world to experience the spiritually uplifting power of nature. Then Jeff sits down for a fascinating, wide-ranging interview with Brian McLaren, an influential pastor, speaker and author who understands nature’s spiritual dimension and its essential role in the future of Christianity, humanity, and the world. Finally, for our Pro extension, grab a cup of tea and make yourself comfortable, as we read Alison’s bedtime story about King Arthur’s search for the mightiest huntsman who ever lived — the Tale of Mabon.