Tag Archives: literaryzooey.wordpress.com

Something Different: another approach to spirituality

Prayer, reading, and mediation are not the only forms of worship or spirituality.

Participating in our lives, growing our friendships and trying new things are also critical to our souls.

Please join me and a group of my friends in a celebration and exploration of food and literature and inspiration. We’re beginning a new club called Cooking through the Classics. Every quarter, we will read a book together and use it to inspire us in our kitchens with food and drink.

The first book is Dante’s Divine Comedy, and we begin in September. For more details, please click on the links below, and join in!





This post is a response to a post by CultureMonk.wordpress.com.

Topics include:

Dark nights of the soul, spiritual exhaustion, social obligation, evolution of the spiritual journey, the fine balance between self and other

Culture Monk


By Kenneth Justice

Everything is fine, I really think you’re overreacting” he told me

~ A while back I had coffee with a Christian minister who will remain nameless. I was talking to him about some of my frustrations regarding life here in the United States and he wasn’t very sympathetic to me whatsoever,

I think things are pretty good Kenneth. The United States is the greatest country on earth, it’s a land of opportunity, and anyone who wants to better themselves here is more than able to do so, everything is fine, I really think you’re overreacting in your assessment of the culture” he said

Over this past holiday weekend I disappeared for a few days to read, study, and take a break from my normal day-to-day life. I spent a lot of time thinking about the minister’s words and have been wondering if the…

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A Sacrifice of Praise

We are instructed to offer a “sacrifice of praise” in Hebrews 13:15. Usually I gloss over that line. Yeah, yeah, praise and Thanksgiving, blah blah blah. Yet, it deserves more consideration than a shrug of  the mind.

“Sacrifice” has multiple meanings depending on the context. Between God and Man, it most often describes a bridging action from man to God which recognizes power (of God, of Law), the deviation from Law (due to intentional action or omission), and the need for the disparity between what is good and holy and what is not. Traditionally, we could not approach God directly. Nothing that is not “clean” or “holy” may. So, the regulations surrounding different forms of sacrifices described in Jewish Law serve to clean the pathway between God and Man so that we may approach Him.

A Christian’s understanding of Jesus as the Messiah means that Christ became the consummate sacrifice meeting all criteria of the Law, permanently. Our individual requirements for guilt or thanksgiving sacrifices have been met, leaving us to offer only “sacrifices of praise.”

All we are asked to do is say “thanks be to God.” Yet, every time we complain about our circumstances, every time we submit to envy or jealousy or self-pity, we do not offer praise. In these negative acts, we shunt praise and prevent it from coming to our lips or hearts.

God does not want us to pretend that suffering is not part of life. He suffered Himself. He wants us to bring our suffering to Him in prayer, however, and not idly grouse and moan to others.

When we speak or think words of praise, we create space within which God can work. When we do not praise, we close ourselves off and prevent His actions.

If we come to him in prayer, acknowledging Him in our suffering and with our praise, we give Him permission to heal and strengthen. Praise is not merely an acknowledgement of faith or of God’s greatness — although that alone would be sufficient reason for praise — it is also our permission to Him for His work in our lives.

Compassion, Social Action, and Christ



Psalm 131:1-2

My heart is not proud, O Lord,
My eyes are not haughty;
I do not concern myself with great matters
Or things too wonderful for me.
But I have stilled and quieted my soul;
Like a weaned child with its mother,
Like a weaned child is my soul within me.

from Letters from the Desert, by Carlo Carretto

Joy or sadness, war or peace, love or hate, purity or impurity, charity or greed, all are tremendous realities which are the hinges of our interior life. Everyday things, relationships with other people, daily work, love of our family — all these may breed saints.
Jesus at Nazareth taught us to live every hour of the day as saints. Every hour of the day is useful and may lead to divine inspiration, the will of the Father the prayer of contemplation — holiness. Every hour of the day is holy. What matters is to live it as Jesus taught us.
And for this one does not have to shut oneself in a monastery or fix strange and inhumane regimes for one’s life. It is enough to accept the realities of life. Work is one of these realities; motherhood, the rearing of children, family life with all it’s obligations are others.


I’ve been reading about the act of “shaking the dust off one’s feet” the past couple of days. It’s confusing. We’re told countless times to not be judgmental, to be loving and kind, but then there is this instruction to “shake the dust off your feet” when leaving someone or someplace which rejects and ridicules you. Ritually, shaking off dust is a sign of derision, an indication that one will not have anything to do with someone again. How is this act not judgmental?

The best I can reason so far is that there is a handing off of responsibility. There is the responsibility we have to care for others, the responsibility we have for our actions and choices, and the responsibility between people to respect the decisions of others, even when we think they are wrong.

So, I have a duty to treat others with kindness, and part of this is teaching about faith, ethics, etc. This teaching from one person to another is necessary so that the student can then incorporate these lessons into his own life and thereby take responsibility for living according to the faith, ethics, and so on.

Now, this duty to teach (by word and deed) ends as soon as it bumps into the boundaries of another person’s freedom to chose how to live. I cannot and should not force my morality or faith onto anyone else. If someone looks at me and says, “that’s nuts, no way do I agree with you,” then I need to accept that and let it go.

The examples in the book of Acts are more, shall we say, emphatic than this. Paul was a fairly feisty character and it seems that he couldn’t do much without a show. Admittedly, he was being driven violently out of towns, so maybe that fed his fire.  He shook his clothes out and exclaimed that his responsibility to these people ended when they threw him out.

Maybe the finality of the dust-shaking has more to do with the persecution and less to do with the disagreement? Maybe it means that when someone forcefully rejects me, it is then okay to let that person go. I don’t need to allow myself to be beaten up. Maybe this dust-shaking is a way to preserve ourselves from being sacrificial, since the sacrifices have already been made on our behalf.


For reference: Acts 13:51, 18:6, Matthew 10:14, Mark 6:11, Luke 9:5, 10:14

Breaking (administrative) News!

This is a breaking news update —

It sounds so thrilling on the newscasts when I hear this phrase, but maybe it’s the graphics working their mojo on me.


This blog has a tiny footprint in the blog-sphere. It floats mostly under the radar, and that’s pretty nice. It has the kind of conversational intimacy between people sitting next to each other on an airplane or train. I started it a year and a half or two years ago with no clear purpose – well, okay I had a fuzzy purpose, or purposes. due to increasing clarity, I’ve decided to make a few changes. Rather than continue to have one blog which is a potpourri of everything, I am going to make it more subject-specific. This blog, the original Mermaids Singing, will focus more on philosophy, culture, theology – a topography of the soul. However, because I don’t only think about lofty things, I’m going to move my 1) literary theory, book reviews, writing nonsense to literaryzooey.wordpress.com; my 2) baseball as myth and metaphor rants to notfiggerfilbert.wordpress.com and my other 3) music, knitting, cooking, gaming, gardening, audiophile, folksy amateur homemaker stuff to a third (fourth) address.

It’s good policy to respect your audience. Hopefully these admin changes will be helpful in following what you’re interested in and ignoring the rest.

Be kind, read well and prosper, Gentle Reader. And, thanks.

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