Friday, March 17, 2006

15 Books and 1 New Story

The Yellow Paperclip went back to PSTD today for the March Tipanan where I had a table for a book sale and signing - a small fundraiser activity for the organization. Some members wanted to buy books after my presentation last month. We sold 15 books! Not bad for an afternoon. Thank you again to my PSTD family... and yes, I don't mind doing this every Tipanan!

This month's topic was Spirituality in the Workplace and I'm glad I went. Not only did I sell 15 books, I also heard one of the best stories ever. Actually, it's THE story. The Ultimate Story. Fr. John Leydon, an Irish priest based in the Philippines for the last 30-something years who is now the parish priest of the Malate Church, shared The New Story of Creation, his personal version of a "cosmic creation story, empirically verifiable, told as an empowering myth". His story is sparked by Genesis, enhanced by the Big Bang Theory, supported by scientific facts yet inspired by The Creative Force - God Himself. The story is beautiful. Let me share some of my favorite excerpts:

I hope to tell the story of the Universe as if it had a personal identity, as if it were alive and has a "numinous" (sacramental) quality, as if it were a subject.

Galaxies are self-organizing systems. A star swirls and it brings with it a chain of other stars. What is it that attracts one star to another? We know it as the force of Gravity. But that does not fully explain the force. From our viewpoint, we can say that the Universe is permeated with ALLUREMENT. It is the most basic law of the Universe. It is what makes everything move. If there were no allurement then stars would fly away from each other. Atom would disintegrate and there would be no world, no us. The starting point for the on-going creative activity of the Universe is allurement. We see it clearly in the waltzing stars and galaxies but remember that the Universe continues its creative activity through the allurements that we humans experience in our daily lives.

As I write these words, I am aware of my fingers moving over the keys. I am aware of the bones in my fingers. The bones are made of calcium. That calcium came from an explosion of a Supernova, ten billion years ago. Five billion years ago, the atoms of the elements that make up my body were floating about in the heavens. I am the fruit of a five to ten billion year project! How are we to react to such musings? For me it evokes awe and wonder at the mystery of it all. Here is the starting point of religion - wonder at the mystery of it all - not shame and guilt which is where much of our present religion starts. The purpose of the recounting of this story is to evoke such sentiments, to awake allurement in us for Ultimate Mystery.

For so long we've considered the Earth as just a big dead ball of dirt. But the New Story tells us that the Earth is alive and moves. Copernicus said that the earth moved, but he meant moved around the sun. When we say it moves, we mean that the whole process is alive. The Earth moves. In a sentence that is the heart of the cosmic revolution.

Wow. His story was a real eye-opener. I'm glad the Church has married myth and science together in this New Story of Creation. The next time someone challenges you that the Big Bang never happened, tell them it's the same moment God said, "Let there be Light!"

I gave Fr. John my storybook and he accepted it gladly, with a smile and an invitation to visit the Center Ecozoic Learning in Cavite which he founded. I'll look forward to that... and many more stories from him.

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