Archive for the ‘Thomism’ Tag

A Ghost Story?   Leave a comment

Above:  Parsonage, Hopewell United Methodist Church, Appling County, Georgia, May 2014

Image Source = Google Earth

My bedroom window was one immediately to the right of the front door.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

I am, to a great extent, a product of the Northern Renaissance, the Scientific Revolution and the Enlightenment.  I make no apologies for this reality.  Mysticism is not dominant in my spirituality; I have strong Thomistic tendencies.  Furthermore, although I assume that the universe is teeming with life, I do not think that any space aliens create crop circles on this planet.  I like Ockham’s Razor.  Nevertheless, I recall some incidents I cannot explain rationally, at least easily.

This is the story of one of them.

From June 1982 to June 1985, my father was the pastor of the Hopewell and Crosby Chapel United Methodist Churches, in southern Appling County, Georgia.  We lived in the countryside, a few miles outside Baxley, the county seat.  I attended the Fourth through Sixth Grades at Appling County Elementary School.  The parsonage was a ranch-style house on the same lot as Hopewell Church, facing Red Oak Road.

Above:  Hopewell United Methodist Church and Parsonage, May 25, 2017

Image Source = Google Earth

The Fellowship Hall was not as wide when we lived in the parsonage.  Also, there was an open-air corridor between the Fellowship Hall and the rest of the church facility.  Furthermore, there was no roof over the back patio in 1982-1985.

The parsonage is a ranch-style house, complete with a study off the kitchen and at the carport door, a rarely-used front door, a dining room-parlor opposite the den, and four bedrooms and two bedrooms on the right side of the structure.

One school night, between 7:30 and 8:00, I experienced an event I still cannot explain.  It happened within that half-hour; at that time one of the television stations in Savannah aired Family Feud, with Richard Dawson as the host.  The evening of which I write, I left my bedroom and walked toward the den.  I heard the game show in the den and my sister’s music in the parlor.  Then, briefly, I did not hear the music and the television.  Silence surrounded me.  I heard the voice of a small child inviting me to go outside and play.  Then I heard the music and Family Feud again.  I said nothing to anybody about this at the time.

I know this story to be true, but I do not know what caused it to happen.  I probably never will.  The answer, I assume is natural, not supernatural.  As a matter of principle, I reject the category of “supernatural.”  All that is not artificial is natural, I affirm.  Some of what is natural defies explanations that fit much of the rest of it, though.

As I have evolved spiritually from Low Church Protestantism into my current configuration (Anglicanism, mixed with Roman Catholicism and Lutheranism, mainly), I have added dashes of Eastern Orthodoxy.  I have become critical of my Western heritage’s tendency to try to explain more than it can correctly.  I have accepted the Eastern Orthodox openness to mysteries that theology or empiricism can never apprehend.

So be it.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 24, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF ANNA ELLISON BUTLER ALEXANDER, AFRICAN-AMERICAN EPISCOPAL DEACONESS IN GEORGIA, AND EDUCATOR

THE FEAST OF HENRY HART MILMAN, ANGLICAN DEAN, TRANSLATOR, HISTORIAN, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT JUVENAL OF ALASKA, RUSSIAN ORTHODOX MARTYR IN ALASKA, AND FIRST ORTHODOX MARTYR IN THE AMERICAS, 1796

THE FEAST OF SAINT PETER THE ALEUT, RUSSIAN ORTHODOX MARTYR IN SAN FRANCISCO, 1815

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Spiritual Paths   3 comments

Above:  My Desk, December 19, 2018

Photographer = Kenneth Randolph Taylor

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Christian spiritual directors have, for some time, understood the variety of spiritual types, related, quite often, to preferences in prayer styles.  The last time I read deeply in the field, I learned that the middle two characters of one’s Myers-Briggs personality type often correlate to a preference of a certain style of prayer.

Another way of classifying spiritual types comes from Roman Catholicism:

  1. The Path of Intellect (Thomistic Prayer), in the style of St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Teresa of Avila;
  2. The Path of Devotion (Augustinian Prayer), in the style of St. Augustine of Hippo;
  3. The Path of Service (Franciscan Prayer), in the style of St. Francis of Assisi; and
  4. The Path of Asceticism (Ignatian Prayer), in the style of St. Ignatius of Loyola.

The test for determining one’s spiritual type takes only a few minutes.  A one-page document with fourteen rows and four columns requires one to look at a row of four words and rank them (“1” to “4,” “1” meaning least descriptive and “4” meaning most descriptive of oneself at the time).  Then one tallies each column.

My spiritual type has changed.  In the middle 1990s, when I was in my twenties, I was, first and foremost, a Thomist.  I have forgotten what the second, third, and fourth rankings were, but I was definitely on the Path of Intellect.  This morning I took the test again.  My scores were as follows:

  1. The Path of Asceticism–48;
  2. The Path of Intellect–43;
  3. The Path of Devotion–30; and
  4. The Path of Service–19.

Asceticism, according to this definition,

involves imagining oneself as part of a scene in order to draw some practical fruit from it for today.

It also entails a certain rigor in spiritual discipline.

The Thomistic preference for spiritual order applies to me.

Spiritual growth over a lifetime entails both change and constancy.  I, as a Christian, embrace that principle as I affirm another one:  one’s spiritual path must flow through Jesus.  Furthermore, to assume that one’s spiritual path in Christ is the only proper path for all people is in error.  In fact, one’s spiritual path in Christ in the present may not be one’s spiritual path in Christ five years from now.  In my case, the new preference for asceticism is consistent with my embrace of minimalism.

Pax vobiscum!

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 19, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE EIGHTEENTH DAY OF ADVENT, YEAR C

THE FEAST OF RAOUL WALLENBERG, RIGHTEOUS GENTILE

THE FEAST OF CHICO MENDES, “GANDHI OF THE AMAZON”

THE FEAST OF ROBERT CAMPBELL, SCOTTISH EPISCOPALIAN THEN ROMAN CATHOLIC SOCIAL ADVOCATE AND HYMN WRITER

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++