Contemplation

Malick's Metaphysics: Creation, Being, and The Tree of Life

When evangelical politicians pronounce on topics like the origins of the universe, the results are almost always awful -- embarrassing, infuriating, unwatchable. When a reclusive, visionary filmmaker like Terrence Malick treats the same subject matter, as he does in his new movie The Tree of Life, one is transported. Which is a useful reminder that the mysteries of creation are best grappled with through art. The book of Genesis, after all, begins not with scientific description or theological argument, but with a poem.

Can Mindfulness Be Tweeted?

I attended a basketball game this winter at the University of Maryland, accompanied by an intern at my workplace, a man in his twenties. For much of the game, we chatted about everything from politics to how North Carolina is far superior to Duke in all the ways that really matter (on the court, of course). During the conversation, between glances at the game, my colleague maintained steady eye contact … with his smart phone.

Ancient Ways to Seek God

I thought Ruth Haley Barton’s article (“Make a Joyful Silence,” February 2009) was awesome. I am the West vocational director for the Lay Cistercians of Geth­semani Abbey in Ken­tucky. We have almost 300 members nationwide and several communities. It is nice to see Protestant churches utilize the ancient method and styles of prayer. The students I am mentoring now were able to gain some insight from the article.

I believe that this lost art is a good way to build dialogue between both denominations. As I tell my students, “You don’t have to be Catholic to study and practice centering prayer or lectio divina.” All Christians can participate in these forms of prayer. They all bind us to one purpose. That purpose is to seek God through Christ.

Walter Poe, North Canton, Ohio

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Sojourners Magazine May 2009
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Unmediated Silence

Regarding “Make a Joyful Silence,” by Ruth Haley Barton (February 2009): We Quakers figured out more than 350 years ago that the presence of God is best understood through the “gathered silence.” Without pastoral speeches (sermons), hymns, or liturgies, we find the spirit of God vital, real, and present when we meet God in honest, open, and unmediated worship. It is fascinating that only now other Protestant groups are coming to this realization.

Our modern world is one of near-constant noise—noise that so often fills our minds with meaningless distraction to the exclusion of the presence of God. There are those who see the idea of silence in worship and its attendant personal contemplation as a new fad to embrace or to be frightened of. For us as Quakers, it is the essence of what it means to be a Christian.

Douglas Bakke, Klamath Falls, Oregon

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Sojourners Magazine April 2009
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