When it comes down to it, for all your hard work that will support an affluent lifestyle, I think that most of you would agree that ultimately happiness comes down to creating a meaningful life. And what that means long-term, I think you would say, is strong family relationships, an active social life, and a job that is not only stimulating and pays well, but somehow contributes something to the world. Continue reading
This is the majestic Christ Church in Dublin, Ireland, one of many architectural treats from Europe’s Christian heritage that I enjoyed this summer. However, with so many European churches feeling more like museums than vibrant centers of community life, my trip to the U.K. also made me think more deeply about what needs to be done to revitalize the Christian faith.
Where have we gone wrong? That’s the question that came to me this summer in Edinburgh, Scotland, where I discovered that church attendance has dropped from 75% in 1900 to 3% now? This question only deepened as I then headed to Dublin, Ireland, a deeply rooted Catholic city in which cynicism of the church is rampant. An article in a Dublin newspaper during my stay announced that there will be not enough priests to fill local parish vacancies in the coming two or three years. Continue reading
“The Sanctuary,” a retreat center in Dublin, Ireland, provided the venue for my recent Mindfulness in Schools Program “Dot B” workshop, a secular mindfulness training course which paradoxically provided me with a new understanding of prayer. We did some of our mindfulness practices together during the workshop in this intimate, bright chapel setting. Continue reading
It was Sunday morning of the final day of our 5-day retreat at Holy Isle, Scotland, studying the work of French paleontologist and Jesuit priest Teilhard de Chardin, as seen through the eyes of spiritual teacher Cynthia Bourgeault. She had led us through Teilhard’s understanding of the three most important Christian virtues – purity, faith, and fidelity – which he describes in his most personally reflective book, The Divine Milieu. She then turned to us and suggested that this was our task – to define these for ourselves. Continue reading
Two opposing forces remain forever memorialized on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile. The Giles Cathedral, where Protestant Reformation leader John Knox delivered impassioned sermons, represents the Christian heritage of Scotland, while the great rationalist skeptic David Hume holds down a strategic position along this famed street. This entry shares a snapshot of the great gifts that Protestant Scotland gave to the world, but also brings attention to the fact that today David Hume’s philosophy, rather than the church speaks for the vast majority of those living the Edinburough, the cultural capital of Scotland.
“Much of what we take for granted in Scotland today, such as the free national education system, the National Health Service, human rights and modern democracy, came about from Christian movements of the past.”
– Paul Griffiths, Famous Lives in Edinburgh, 16. Continue reading
The Modern Story of Realism
If I ask are you a realist or an idealist, you will probably consider your basic approach to life. The realists live more cautiously or even pessimistically, while the idealists see the bright side, spotting silver linings in every cloud.
Philosophically, however, I’m trying to get at a bigger question: what is the fundamental nature of reality? Put most simply, what came first, God or the atom? Dean Radin, chief scientist of the Institute of Noetic Sciences, addresses this question by contrasting two philosophical positions taken throughout history, realism and idealism. The realists believe that the basic building blocks of reality are physical bits that we call atoms and molecules. Billions of years of random mixing of material elements resulted in the lucky strike of not only a habitable planet, but an increasingly complex evolutionary ladder that has culminated in the miracle of human personality and reflectivity that we call mind, awareness or consciousness. This certainly is the current cosmological story underpinning modern civilization. Continue reading