Summary: The Celts prayed about everything in their day
Spirituality of Work and the Everyday G@TP May 26, 2008
Grace – Way p. 84
Homework from 2 weeks ago…
· Visit myfootprint.org to calculate your own impact upon God’s creation.
· Patrick blessed a river at least once. Our rivers and streams need miraculous healing beyond just better ecological practices. Bless a river near your home.
· Meditate on a piece of creation as a way to know the Creator. “For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see His invisible qualities – His eternal power and divine nature.” (Romans 1:20)
· Bless to Me, O God
2 stories – Going to the cabin in the middle of the night –
A song of ascents.
1 I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
where does my help come from?
2 My help comes from the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
3 He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber;
4 indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
5 The LORD watches over you—
the LORD is your shade at your right hand;
6 the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.
7 The LORD will keep you from all harm—
he will watch over your life;
8 the LORD will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.
- praying for front suspension
Is God concerned about such things?
Paul Heibert’s article, “The Flaw of the Excluded Middle,” shows how people explain life, live life, and face the future at three levels. The bottom level deals with the factors in life that our senses can apprehend; this is the “empirical” world that the “sciences” deal with. At this level, people learn to plant a crop, to clean a fish, to fix a water pump, to build a house, and a thousand other things. The top level deals with the ultimate issues in life that are beyond what our senses can perceive; this is a “transcendent” or “sacred” realm that Christianity and the other world religions define, and then address. Heibert reports that “religion as a system of explanation deals with the ultimate questions of the origin, purpose, and destiny of an individual, a society, and the universe.” Western society and the Western churches, especially since the Enlightenment, have tended to exclude from their view of reality a middle level that is nevertheless quite real to regular people.
The “middle-level” issues of life are the questions of the uncertainty of the near future, the crises of present life, and the unknowns of the past. Despite knowledge of facts such as:
· seeds once planted will grow and bear fruit, or
· travel down this river on a boat will bring one to the neighboring village,
the future is not totally predictable. Accidents, misfortunes, the intervention of other persons, and other unknown events can frustrate human planning.
For many peoples, Heibert adds, this middle realm is inhabited by “mechanical” forces such as spells, omens, the evil eye, or luck, and by more “organic” presences like spirits, ghosts, ancestors, angels, demons, lesser gods, etc. In traditional folk religions, people turn to the local shaman (who can influence these middle-level forces) for a fruitful marriage, or for safety during travel, or for protection from the evil eye or bad luck.
The problem is that Western Christianity (and the other world religions) usually ignores this middle level that drives most people’s lives most of the time. Western Christian leaders usually focus on the “ultimate” issues, as they define them, to the exclusion of the lesser issues; indeed, they often consider middle issues beneath them. When Christianity ignores, or does not help people cope with, these middle issues, we often observe “Split-Level Christianity” in which people go to church so they can go to heaven, but they also visit the shaman or the astrologer for help with the pressing problems that dominate their daily lives.
Celtic Christians had no need to seek out a shaman. Their Christian faith and community addressed life as a whole and may have addressed the middle level more specifically, comprehensively, and powerfully than any other Christian movement ever has. A folk Christianity of, by, and for the people developed. It helped common people to live and cope as Christians day by day in the face of poverty, enemies, evil forces, nature’s uncertainties, and frequent threats from many quarters.
The dualism that we talked about last time has led us to think that God is not concerned about such mundane things as my groundless fear, or front suspension on my MTB, or whether the computer will crash tomorrow, or whether a couple will conceive a child, or whether we can make it on time to an appointment, or whether a project will be successful…