Inspired by Attorney General William Barr blaming “secularists” and “so-called progressives” for wreaking havoc on American society, this spiritual progressive responds citing Stages of the Soul.
By Eileen Fleming
Last Friday Attorney General William Barr shocked some legal experts -and this spiritual progressive with deep Catholic roots- over his defense of religious freedom. In his 37-minute speech at the University of Notre Dame’s law school, Barr did not take questions from the media [who were escorted out before the Q&A] after he spoke passionately about “consequences of moral chaos” and the infringement of rights for organized religions and those of religious faith.
The fundamentalist Catholic thundered against what he described as a “moral upheaval” claiming, “This is not decay. This is organized destruction. Secularists and their allies have marshaled all the forces of mass communication, popular culture, the entertainment industry, and academia in an unremitting assault on religion & traditional values… Ground zero for these attacks on religion are the schools. To me this is the most serious challenge to religious liberty today.”
The First Amendment bans the government from establishing or giving primacy to any religion but William Barr has advocated for more religion in American government, schools, and law for decades and he has been aligned with fundamentalist [conservative] religious groups including the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which litigated the Hobby Lobby case that allowed employers not to cover contraception coverage to employees.
According to the 1987 classic, The Different Drum: Community Making and Peace, Dr. Scott Peck defines the spiritual life as fluid and that one may pass back and forth repeatedly through any of the four-probably more-stages of the soul.
Stage one upon this journey -that begins from within-is essentially our infancy in the spiritual life. A stage one soul reflects the inner chaotic and anti-social, unregenerate soul that is interested only in its own self-satisfaction and ego, much like the stereotypical spoiled child.
Stage one people may claim to love others, but their behavior reflects they love their own pleasure, money, power, prestige, and security above any other. For stage one people, it really is all about them.
Stage two souls seek to “let their light shine” and will live virtuous lives and do many good works.
Stage two people can be judgmental of others, self-righteous, rigid of thought, cold of heart, legalistic concrete literal thinkers and may even be guilty of a lukewarm faith. They want to do right and they even may desire to love and please God, but have not yet fully opened up to the Inner Light, as Joan of Arc did when she challenged church and state and persisted that she had intuited God within -even while being fried.
Jesus said, “You shall know the truth and the truth will set you free.” -John 8:32
Stage two souls have not yet been set fully free and prefer the security of a higher human authority than themselves for guidance. They submit to institutions, scripture, dogma, ritual, ministers, or gurus. This is the most appropriate stage for older children and most adults who live busy lives just trying to keep bread on the table and a dry roof above.
The difference between a stage one and stage two soul, is that a one wouldn’t even notice a neighbor in need; while the two has awoken to the fact that we are to be our neighbor’s keepers and will respond to a friend or even to a total stranger in need.
Most theologians would agree that the opposite of faith is not disbelief: the opposite of faith is fear.
Stage three souls have not just fearlessly awoken, they have evolved!
This evolution has led them to the realization of what Jesus was really talking about in the Sermon of the Mount, which sound like crazy promises, but are all about waking people up to The Divine within themselves and all others:
About 2,000 years ago, when Jesus was about 33, he hiked up a hill and sat down under an olive tree and began to teach the people;
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.”
In other words: it is those who know their own spiritual poverty, their own limitations and sins honestly and trust God loves them in spite of themselves who already live in the Kingdom of God.
How comforted we will be, when we see, we haven’t got a clue, as to the depth and breadth of pure love and mercy of The Divine Mystery of The Universe.
God’s name in ancient Aramaic is Abba, which means Daddy, as much as Mommy and He/She: The Lord has said:
“My ways are not your ways. My thoughts are not yours.” -Isaiah 55:8
“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”
The essence of meek is to be patient with ignorance, slow to anger and never hold a grudge.
In other words: how comforted you will be when you also know humility; when you know yourself, the good and the bad, for both cut through every human heart.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, they will be filled.”
In other words: how comforted you will be when your greatest desire is to do what “God requires, and he has already told you what that is; BE JUST, BE MERCIFUL and walk humbly with your Lord.”-Micah 6:8
“Blessed are the merciful, they will be shown mercy.”
In other words: how comforted you will all be when you choose to return only kindness to your ‘enemy.’
“For with the measure you measure against another, it will be measured back to you”, Jesus warned his disciples as he explained the law of karma in Luke 6:27-38.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they see God.”
In other words: how comforted you will be when you WAKE UP and see God is already within you, within every man, every woman and every child.
The Supreme Being is everywhere, the Alpha and Omega, beginning and end. Beyond The Universe -and yet so small; within the heart of every atom.
“Blessed are The Peacemakers: THEY shall be called the children of God.”
And what a wonderful world it would be when we all seek peace by pursuing justice; for there can be none without the other.
A stage three soul may well reject Jesus as God, but will often agree with the philosophy of Jesus.
Thomas Jefferson weeded out the miracle stories from the gospels and clarified the teachings and ethics of Jesus in: THE LIFE AND MORALS of JESUS of NAZARETH
1. Be just: justice comes from virtue, which comes from the heart.
2. Treat people the way we want to be treated.
3. Always work for PEACEFUL resolutions, even to the point of returning violence with COMPASSION.
4. Consider valuable the things that have no material value.
5. Do not judge others.
6. Do not bear grudges.
7. Be modest and unpretentious.
8. Give out of true generosity, not because we expect to be repaid.
9. Being true to one’s self in more important than being loyal to one’s family.
A stage three soul will see that a neighbor is everyone on the planet and not just those who think and look the same and are born in the same geographical location. Stage three’s are seekers, doubters, skeptics, agnostics and frequently adults who grew up disenchanted with institutionalized religion.
Their inherent intellectual curiosity leads them to seek their own way towards the Mystery of the Divine through philosophy and the study of multiple faith paths choosing and discarding according to their “inner light.”
Stage three souls often become activists for social justice and reform and the increasing wave of humanitarian secularism verses the bondage of religious dogma just may be the way to change the world as we now know it.
It has been said we are all called to be mystics in the market place and a stage four, such as Thomas Merton and Rumi give voice to that experience of the curtain being lifted and seeing through the glass a bit less darkly.
A mystic can best be understood as one who is in love with the divine mystery and is viscerally connected to the unity of all creation.
Mystics are not navel gazers, they feel the pain of the world within their hearts and grieve at what humans do to the other when they have no clue that The Divine is within the other as much as within themselves.
Mystics have detached from their concepts of God-not by their own efforts, but by the invitation and action of God upon a willing and simple soul in love with Pure Being, AKA: God for lack of a better word.
The mystic fool, Saint Francis, the leper kisser of Assisi, was so head over heels in love with God in everyone and all of creation that most people of his time considered him crazed, or at least, extremely eccentric.
One needn’t be a mystic or move beyond stage two on the spiritual journey to do what is good and right just because it is good and right.
On that foundation alone people of faith, agnostics and even atheists can surely find something to agree upon and ALL that is needed is LOVE:
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, and it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with THE TRUTH! It always protects, it always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres. Love never fails.– 1 Corinthians 13: 4-8
U.S. Attorney General William Barr has been flying around the world on missions from Trump such as trying to find evidence of the unproven conspiracy theory that Ukraine colluded with Democrats during the 2016 election, which has dragged him into the Ukraine scandal that set off the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.
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