[RivCompanions] Chapters 3 - 5 of Burrows

Martha Frances martha.frances at gmail.com
Thu Feb 25 19:39:29 UTC 2016

My dear Companions on the Way,


I’m 1/2 week behind on reading Burrows’ book, but since only Virginia has responded to last week’s “assignment” anyway, I’ll let go of the self-applied pressure.  My Cultivating Compassion ends tonight; then I’ll prepare a Lenten presentation on Miriam’s Well & wells & women in general (in case anyone has any tidbits to offer) to give on Wed, 16 March.  A 6-week book study/class on Sibyl Dana Reynolds’ INK AND HONEY follows. It’s a novel about Beguines in 13th Century France.  The last session will be taught by the author.  Do any of you know the book?  I’m excited about leading this study.


Now, I’ve stalled on Burrows long enough.  Is it worth the energy to read this challenging book? My complaints help me through the task.  Anyway, some in these chapters is worth consideration.


Chapter three’s “the only saviour” is again frustrating to me, & Burrows sets forth a proposal & then refutes it herself as she states, “Apart from Jesus we know nothing of God,” & then continues with the Johannine exception “There are many not of this fold. . . .”  I contend we know God many ways, some of which Burrows would probably call “semi-christian.” Karl Rahner’s term “anonymous Christian” seems arrogant to me.  I love the Celtic ways of knowing Godde throughout the world, & in our acknowledgement of Godde’s presence in our daily activities is our way of praying through them.  


On page 18, Burrows says Jesus is the “perfect revelation of the Father in human terms” & that “The relationship of love which he has with his Father is to be shared with us,” which I affirm for myself, but I can’t claim it true for a faithful Jew or Muslim, etc, nor am I in a position to judge others’  relationship w/ Godde.  She then contends death is necessary for us to become Godde’s children--calling that the death of the ego.  I understand but prefer the language she has alluded to in this same chapter, that of transformation & experienced vividly in the Transfiguration.


In chapter 4, she emphasizes the cross as central to Jesus’ salvific presence among us. I prefer to include Jesus’ short but intense life & then his resurrection to form a trinity with the cross & the whole Holy Week/Easter experience.  Many people were crucified, but Jesus’ crucifixion resulted from the uncompromising honesty, courage, & truth of the way he lived his life, & the resurrection made all the difference.  


Regarding Virginia’s quote on page 22, I certainly affirm the importance of the mystical in my own & others’ lives, yet those who experience Godde in other ways such as through the intellectual struggle of many scholars (--TJs in Myers/Briggs terms) & for whatever reason would not identify with mystical experience should not be excluded.  Her comments regarding humility & its relationship to love are helpful, & I contend that our ability to recognize that Godde is Godde & we’re not is true but that, at the same time, we are each made in Godde’s image & likeness & therefore live with Godde in our midst.  Our exhibiting Godde-likeness is directly related to our willingness to the Spirit’s response to our openness to Godde’s working in our lives.


As Burrows described Paul’s concern over the new Christians’ continued reliance on the law, she stated, “I feel he was shocked to find it [the belief that they were agents of their own righteousness] was not so with others.”(25) I’m reminded that Martin Luther, in translating the Bible into the vernacular & urging all Christians to read the Bible, assumed that all would interpret it alike, the way he interpreted it, so was shocked when he realized there were as many interpretations as there were people reading on their own.  My experience is that weaning people from reliance on the law comes with their becoming more confident in their freedom in responsibly living in grace, something which takes time but leads to more mature faithful living when people are affirmed in their life-long conversion & growth in faith.


I, too, am stumped at the conversation she opens up about John of the Cross, but it’s comforting that I’m not alone in that confusion.


Despite my distaste for the title of chapter 5, “The narrow gate,” I found more in line with my own understandings than in previous chapters.  I agree that “God is offering to take over,” & we so often hold on too tightly for Godde to wrench our fingers from our own folly.  Finally, the author is adequately inclusive when she says we are reconciled with Godde “through the death & resurrection of Jesus,” (31)  Later, on page 33, she comes to the heart of Jesus’ constant gift to us, “Redemption means there is a way out.  Jesus has made the way.  He is the gate through which we pass, . . . .” Once again, however, I wish he’d have said that Jesus is “a” way to redemption.  Her awareness that a new convert must come to recognize his/her belief in order to communicate that belief & therefore be an apostle, one who is sent to spread the “good news,” is essential, I believe, so that both apostle & convert may come into “perfect union with himself & his Father,” a good part of why Jesus became incarnate in the first place. (34)  And I love her assertion that “all this presupposes generosity.” (34)  Such generosity of spirit & of one’s life can make all the difference in a Christian’s sharing simply a path of duty & one of joy in our Godde.  I must admit I got a bit confused by her illustration from Mister God, This is Anna, but I’ll let go of that because I finally found some ideas I feel rewarding, even for Lent.


Sorry this is so long.  I simply don’t have time to edit.  If you waded through all this, you may have a glimpse of the discipline it takes for me to read the book.


Joyful Lent for all,


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