I have learned that spending a bit of time each Sunday with Andrew Sullivan is worthwhile. I mean reading his popular Daily Dish blog, where he and his clever associates post pieces on religion and spirituality, along with all the rest: politics, gender and sex, legalizing pot, and the usual rich cultural mix of poetry and popular culture that this pioneer blogger and thinker is famous for.
This week I glanced at pieces he posted on cosmology, the Hagia Sophia, a poem by William Stafford, and article on the quest for meaning--all helpful in slowing us down as we tend to rush through stuff on the internet. Even non-theists and materialists can find material for reflection here.
Last week, Sullivan and Co. introduced me to a theologian named Martin Laird, author of Into the Silent Land. Here, in a generous selection from the book, the Daily Dish gave us a passage on union with God that reminded me of Thomas Merton. "Separation from God is not possible," writes Laird; "God does not know how to be absent." We created in our minds the illusion that we are separated from the God, whom we meet in stillness and silence, beyond words. Laird writes beautifully, and I am grateful, as always, to find someone else, with a stronger background in such things, to say what I have been trying to say.
I am also grateful to Andrew for a piece by Robert Barron on why and how the new atheists miss the boat: God, as Aquinas found and Merton (among many others) re-discovered, is the sheer act of being itself. God is not a being separate from us.
Then there was a piece on awe and wonder, the kind found in architecture (I think of the Gothic cathedral), based on an article by a psychiatrist who rejects the taboo on combining psychotherapy and spirituality. He defines spiritual people as those who exercise their innate ability to experience awe and wonder. It seems that buildings that inspire awe and wonder are healing because they inspire positive feelings that are quite separate from religious expression.
All this I would have missed without dropping in on Andrew last Sunday.