RS180 Lecture Notes - Lecture 7: Jean-Paul Sartre

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Published on 28 Mar 2015
Module 7 – Charity and Friendship with God
Mary Jo Leddy
Is it possible to be friends with God?
oThe nature of God’s relationship to humans is often called charity
Charity today – organizations that do good work and need volunteers
Root of the word charity is actually in charitas = a particular kind of divine love
oA word that tries to capture how humans can love like god loves
Throughout Christian tradition there are two main approaches to god:
oThe via positiva (capophatic)
Finds god everywhere, in everything that life offers to us (god is imminent)
God is in people, nature, life, art etc
oThe via negativa (apophatic spirituality)
God is beyond anything we see/know/name, he can’t be represented (god is transcendant)
Only when we let go of all our images and language can we truly know god
Think of the two as ends of a spiritual spectrum (both are possible, believers can move back and forth
between them)
Toward week 11; Jerrard miller; via negativa approach (we can only understand God when everything
has been stripped away
Mary Jo Leddy’s experience of God in her life on at Romero house is catophatic (via positiva)
oShe finds god in the details of life, of people, art, their lived experience/community
oShe insists that our choices shape our imagination and our perception (‘where you live
determines what you see, the people you listen to affect what you hear’)
Like Waddell, she believes that we make a choice when we face another person and they face us
oA choice to see them as either a threat/new gift or possibility to our familiar setting
oThis has implications for what it means to be friends with God
oWrites about the familiar face of God; we’re tempted to create an image of him that is friendly
and familiar and ‘like us’
This is a problem because God isn’t simply like us
Dangers of the cataphatic way; we can easily find God in our familiar safe setting and
become afraid of the new, the change, the stranger
How does she illustrate her encounters with the divine?
Why does she narrate her friendship with Jose and Terra sitta?
What is her central point?
The other face of God – Mary Jo Leddy
Romero house – a community of service named after archbishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador (a man
of the church who gave his life to the poor)
oWest of Toronto; 4 houses and a storefront
Refugees; efforts to fold the ones who are different into the file of the familiar are deeply engrained in
our culture
oWe live in an imperial culture; the American empire; tempted to make the other ‘like us’
oWorldview is this imperialism of ‘the same’
This cultural tendancy effects our spiritual attitudes and shapes our view of god
Life is change; God is the radically New, always stranger
Once we stop trying to manage the differences of others, we might be taken aback by the fresh gifts they
José and Teresita; gave poverty a face and a name for Leddy
o“Poverty means never having a tomorrow”
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o“for the rich, the future is what you make happen. For the middle-class, the future is what you
plan for, but for the poor, the future is just what happens to you”
Lecture 2
Recap, MJL: If we have limited experiences of others  limited version of God in our head  we limit our
ability to love, find a rich and meaningful life
Wadell and Anne Lamott
oThink about some of the catagories; are these authors via positiva or negativa
Most people who are spiritual have a spectrum of both positiva and negativa
Wadell sets out his approach in the first few paragraphs:
oWhat does it mean to love like God loves?
oUnique kind of divine-human love = charity
oColloquy = refers to a kind of conversational prayer; intimate way of speaking between the
human and the divine; rhythmic
oHappiness = Wadells whole scholarly work was based on his ideas that humans want to be
happy; all our choices are based on that
Aristotle says; happiness is not a condition, its an activity (of living the best human life you can, a life of
virtue.. a life called ‘eudemonia’)
God invites humans into this by giving us an experience of happiness
oBut what makes friendship with God diff from human relationships?
Aristotle; one of his characteristics of friendship; that there is equality between the two ppl
oTherefore he did not believe in friendship with God because how can there be equality?
Acquinous agrees with some of Aristotles points but disagrees that it is impossible for human-divine
oHe thinks its possible b/c its what god wants
oChristian view- creation of the world was an act of love on God’s part; humans themselves can’t
make themselves fit to be friends with God, but God can… =grace – the action of God that
makes it possible for a human to enter into a friendship with God
Aristotle asks, what is this goodness that is shared between humans and God?
What he says about living and what human being is each supposed to be
oIf humans have to be fully human with the capacity to develop virtues
Acquinous argues that we need to think about God as happiness itself
o“the gift from God with which charity begins is the outpouring of God’s own happiness into our
own hearts’
opart of this is in understanding God’s nature
o(in traditional Christianity; God is 3 persons; the holy trinity) Christians are monotheistic – they
believe in one god, but in the trinity (3 persons of one God) the ‘father son and holy spirit’
Wadell; friendships change us
oMoral living is about connecting with God; being changed to be more like God; and sharing so
deeply in the love of god that we become one with God
oTalks about 3 marks of friendship, about benevolence, mutuality, and seeing the friend as another
self (Acquious and Aristotle as well)
This means that we become like God AND unlike God
oBecause when we’re in a friendship be don’t become identical to our friend, we become like
them and unlike them
Anne Lamott reading
oExpresses an apohatic stance (via negativa)
oTrying to articulate what one reaches to beyond this world ‘beyond our comprehension’
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oWhat the greeks called the ‘really real What lies within us beyond the scrim of our values,
positions, convictions etc
oA cry from deep within to Life, to Love
Via negativa
Lamott notes that we are often motivated to look for something beyond us when we are in pain or
struggle, might even be the best time… but the point is that its about the perspective (paradoxically, both
within us and beyond us)
oIn this reading, the divine is transcendent more than imminent
Prayer = is talking to something or anything with which we seek union (even if we are bitter, insane or
oPrayer is taking a chance
In any case, we are making contact with something unseen that we could never imagine in our wildest
oMight call this ‘love energy or ‘divine intelligence’ etc
Poetry and Song
Rumi was a Persian poet and Muslim scholar, writing almost 800 years ago. He remains one of the
world’s most popular poets. This poem depicts the human and God as incongruous beloveds of vastly
unequal proportions. How does this poem express in images and metaphors some of the same ideas as
Wadell? LYRICS:
Danny Schmidt’s 2004 song tells a story of a shattered stained glass window, and how the messy, ugly
replacement becomes a vehicle for God to become present, and for everyone to face and accept their
own flaws and pain.
Module 8 – Love of the Earth
Moth Love by Barbara Kingsolver from Prodigal summer
Prodigal= wreckless/wasteful expenditure
oThis week, we’re looking at what it says about love of a specific place/nature
oNext week, we’re looking at what it says about sex and love
“the least we can do is figure out what we hope for… then live inside that hope”
Kingsolver’s way of living inside that hope is writing fiction
Look for references to place, the earth, surroundings
oEx. Lusa talks about how the mountains breathe; she learned to tell time with her skin
oHow place functions as a character in this narrative; would Cole and Lusa describe the characters
of nature differently
oHow the notion of place differs to Cole/Lusa
Lusa is an etymologists; she compares her marriage to the relationships of other creatures (which ones?
Why? How do they relate?)
To Cole as a farmer, moths are a pest and are dangerous to crops
oThey represent 2 different types of loving the earth/land;
oColes way is to cultivate it, protect it, know it intimately in order to control and make sense of it,
feed yourself and create your space on the earth
oLusas approach embraces the earths wildness and diversity, less cultivating and more coexisting
oYet both love the land
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