How culture influences spiritual development
Resumo: idéias principais do texto ( Espiritualidade e Cultura)
– Pensadores recentes tem invertido antigos paradigmas sobre nossa natureza humana. Bernard Cooke ensina que nós não somos “animais racionais”, mas sim “espíritos encarnados.” Um autor desconhecido havia dito em outras palavras: “Nós não somos seres humanos numa tarefa espiritual, nós somos seres espirituais numa tarefa humana.”
– O significado e senso de espiritualidade mudou drasticamente desde o inicio da Era Cristã até hoje. Importante é o conhecimento mais profundo da cultura e como isso tem influenciado crenças, comunidades e nações. Entretanto, nem toda mudança tem sido boa, positiva e construtiva.
– Autores tem definido cultura de diferentes maneiras em diferentes pontos de vista durante diferentes períodos da história. Papa João Paulo II definiu cultura “como um conjunto de valores, regras, costumes e instituições, comunicando as aspirações da sociedade e gerando regras para a interação de povos e grupos”.
– A grande depressão de 1930 tendeu as famílias a se fecharem. O relacionamento humano mudou nas famílias durante esse tempo e mesmo depois, para seguir os empregos. Algumas eram deslocadas de um lugar do país para outro. Com o aumento da violência entre vizinhos, os pais se sentiram obrigados a acompanhar seus filhos a escola e às atividades esportivas. Hoje até as crianças carregam celulares para poderem estar sempre em contato com seus pais trabalhadores.
– No seu resumo de um século de História, João Paulo II, disse aos Canadenses que, enquanto a opressão comunista era política, a opressão do leste era cultural. Ele observou: ¿Desde que a cultura nos transformou em individualistas e utilitaristas, nós perdemos o senso de solidariedade. A cultura criou famílias nucleares com um ou dois pais com poucos filhos que vivem longe de seus parentes e mais longe ainda do mundo dos seus vizinhos no mesmo prédio, e muitas vezes no mesmo andar. Por causa desses problemas o Papa falou que comunidades são importantes porque é onde os membros podem preencher suas vocações. “Através do trabalho nós nos tornamos as pessoas que somos. Trabalho é um elemento essencial à cultura.”
– Trabalho traz dignidade e auto-estima ao ser humano. Algumas poucas indústrias e redes comerciais mostram consideração e comprometimento com seus empregados. Os empregados, em resposta, não são fiéis ao seus chefes. Sem senso de respeito no trabalho, a vida passa a não ter sentido, espiritualidade sem sentido, o que termina se transformando em falta de desejo para viver.
– De acordo com Baum, “Todas as tradições culturais são pecados, todas são julgadas pela Palavra de Deus, todas as culturas, de uma maneira ou de outra, se desviaram da justiça”. Enquanto a observação de Baum pode ter alguma base, eu acho grossamente exagerada sua condenação às culturas. Enquanto todas as tradições e estruturas humanas são limitadas e imperfeitas, elas não são necessariamente pecado ou más. Qualquer organização que pretende sobreviver precisa de alguma forma de estrutura e precisa de regras ou leis para manter os membros unidos.
– A experiência espiritual de um cristão só pode ser achada na nossa humanidade a qual é rotina. No coração de uma experiência espiritual cristã, está o encontro e o conhecimento do Cristo Ressuscitado. É a minha experiência que a pessoa espiritual, cristã ou não, pode demonstrar empatia para as gangues de meninos de rua, bêbados, drogados, mendigos, para isso é um encontro de espíritos e reconhecimento dos laços humanos. Isso é o que significa para mim ser vizinho do necessitado.
– Eu acho que se nós formos para o inferno, nós iremos sozinhos, se nós formos para o céu, nós iremos juntos, tudo depende da bondade e testemunho dos outros. Enquanto cada um de nós tem um relacionamento particular com Deus, por qualquer imagem ou nome que usemos, esse relacionamento foi influenciado pelos outros. Foi um produto de nosso passado ancestral e cultural, moldado pela nossa estrutura social e econômica, e maturada através da nossa interação com os outros da mesma ou diferentes sistemas de fé.
– Essa convicção me fez ser um pouco mais tolerante nas práticas de orações e liturgias na minha comunidade. O heroísmo de Maria, a mãe de Jesus, é reconhecido como um modelo como ela foi dedicada e viveu sua vida na sua vocação. Devoções populares tem maquiado sua grandeza com valores humanos, vestindo suas imagens com riqueza e coroas, e tem atribuído a ela valores questionáveis, e tem dado a ela títulos piegas, ambos em orações e músicas.
– Eu acredito que a minha espiritualidade fez manifestações na minha vida de orações. Algumas devoções e muitos hinos parecem fazer Deus e os santos “lá fora” ou “lá em cima”. Como é diferente para mim as orações nos Ritos de Distribuição da Sagrada Comunhão Fora da Missa.
– Cada pessoa tem uma espiritualidade única e individual, quer que passa o tempo no silêncio na igreja, ou que entra em comunhão com Deus na beleza revelada nas florestas ou então contemplando um pôr-do-sol. Eu acredito que todos nós estamos unidos em alguma comunidade, com uma comunhão espiritual. Somos guiados a rejeitar estereótipos e uma mentalidade de “o que é bom para Bull Moose é bom para o mundo”. Eu espero que minha espiritualidade individual influencie a maneira a qual eu respondo para os trabalhos desse Espírito em minha vida, tanto sozinho quanto em minha ajuda aos outros.
(tradução por CauReb)
Recent thinkers have inverted long-time paradigms about our human nature. Bernard Cooke teaches that we are not “rational animals,” but rather, “incarnate spirits.” An unknown author has said this in other words: “We are not human beings on a spiritual quest, we are spiritual beings on a human quest.” The truth in both of these is working to humanize our relationships, including the people on the street and international treaties, with support for the poor and the conservation of Earth’s resources.
The meaning and sense of spirituality has changed drastically from the earliest Christian era to today. One of the reasons for the development is part of the maturation process, learning from those who came before us. Another is the intensive examination of spirituality over the ages by the wise, seeking truth and understanding from different historical viewpoints. A third is a more profound knowledge of culture and how it has influenced spiritualities, communities, and nations. Not all change, however, has been good, positive or up-building.
Authors have defined culture in many different ways from many different viewpoints during different periods of history. Pope John Paul II defined culture “as the set of values, rules, customs, and institutions that express and mediate the ethos of a society, i.e., that communicate the aspirations of society and provide norms for the interaction of peoples and groups in that society” . Even without an in-depth knowledge of the cultural changes in the first Christian centuries, with intermittent persecutions, or through the ages of Constantine and other Christian Roman emperors, or the influence of the Greeks and later the Frank and Germanic tribes, one can still imagine how, throughout history, cultures have effected changes in the Christian Church and in the understanding of the developing spiritualities.
Outstanding people of the Church over a millennium – Augustine, Benedict, Bernard, Francis of Assisi, Thomas Aquinas, Catherine of Sienna, and Theresa of Avila – were all elements in redefining and clarifying the understanding of Christian spirituality. These were all children of their cultures and environments yet were able to separate themselves from them and redefine themselves in relation to the dominant cultures of their times and their individual and communitarian faiths.
During the 19th and 20th centuries, the economic, political, and social changes caused dramatic changes in the culture and, likewise, in the spirituality of predominantly ethnic communities in the United States. Children worked in the infamous sweat-shops to help support their parents while posted signs screamed: “Irish need not apply.” Industrial power found itself at war with newly formed labor unions and were forced to pay better salaries and provide more humane working conditions. While a working man could support his family with an average of four to six children, his wife could remain at home to care for the family and household, as sung: “Monday, wash-day; Tuesday, ironing day,…” The Great Depression of the 1930s tended to close families in on themselves. Finally, with the millions of men serving the Armed Forces during World War II, women were needed to assume the traditional men’s professions. With the return of the military personnel, the job market was glutted with both men and women vying for work, salaries dropped, and labor unions ignored. Even today, it is difficult for one parent to support a family with one or two children. Civil Rights, Women’s Rights, and the move from farms to cities, all made notable changes in the American culture and in the family structure. One can relate to how human relationships changed within families during this time and later when, to follow jobs, families were dislocated from one part of the country to another. Ethnic parishes closed or consolidated; community became almost unknown. As neighborhood violence increased, parents felt obligated to accompany their children to school and sports activities. Today even children carry cellular phones so they can keep in contact with their working parents.
In his summary of a century of history, John Paul II told the Canadians that, while the oppression of Communism was political and that of the third world economic, the oppression of the West was cultural. He observed: “Since culture has made us into individualists and utilitarians, we have lost a sense of solidarity and the political will to overcome the economic ills in our own country and to assume a more responsible approach to third world countries” The Western culture has created nuclear families of one or two parents with few children. Nuclear families are living far away from their relatives and even farther from the world of their neighbors in the same apartment buildings, even on the same floors. The local churches or parishes attempt to take on the role of a Christian community, however poorly it may be. In the face of these problems, the Pope says the communities are important because it is there that the members can fulfill their vocations and ministries . He continues: “Through labor we come to be the people we are. Labor is an essential element of culture”. Labor is one of the building blocks of human dignity and self-esteem. Few industries or commercial chain stores now show any consideration or commitment to their employees. The employees, in response, sense no loyalty to their employers. Without the sense of pride in one’s work, life soon becomes meaningless, culture senseless, and spirituality without purpose; there remains no purpose, no desire to live.
According to Baum, “All cultural traditions are sinful; all are judged by God’s Word; all cultures in one way or another have deviated from justice”. He continues that the brokenness of cultures lies in the cultural enshrinement of domination or oppression. All cultures have legitimated master–servant relationships; they have blessed the division of peoples into the powerful who make decisions and the powerless who are forever dependent on the decisions of the powerful . It is the human vocation, renewed and elevated in Jesus Christ, to overcome this brokenness.
While Baum’s observations may have some basis in fact, I contend he grossly exaggerates his condemnation of cultures. While all human traditions and structures are limited and imperfect, they are not necessarily sinful or evil. Any organization that intends to survive needs some kind of structure to unite it, and it needs rules or laws to hold its members together. The leadership, however it may be determined, makes structural conditions. These are fine-tuned or changed over time with new knowledge, proof of experience, and the interpretations and intentions of subsequent leadership. If evil results because of a human structure, as capitalism or socialism, for example, the evil is the result of the way the people interpret or misuse the structure.
Spiritual experience of a Christian can only be found in our humanity which is routine and commonplace. For Peter Riga, “if the spiritual life is an adventure which never ceases to be human; the truest part of this human adventure of ours is the spiritual”. Also “At the heart of the Christian spiritual experience, there is the encounter and the knowledge of the resurrected Christ”. It is my experience that the spiritual person, Christian or not, would show empathy for the gangs of street kids, the teetering alcoholic, the prostrate drug addicts, the homeless men and women on the streets and under bridges, for there is a meeting of spirits and recognition of human ties. That is what it means to be “neighbor” to the needy.
I have long maintained that if we go to hell, we go alone; if we go to heaven, we go together, each dependent on the goodness and witness of others. While each of us has a particular relationship with God, by whatever image or name we use, that relationship has been influenced by others. It has been a product of our ancestry and cultural backgrounds, molded by our social and economic structure, and matured through our interaction with others of similar as well as contradictory faith systems.
This conviction has enabled me to be a little more tolerant of prayer and liturgical practices in my community which I would never promote. People bow or genuflect before the tabernacle, for example. If Jesus, with the Father and Spirit, dwells in each of us , then we ought to do this reverence to each other as Christbearers. The heroism of Mary, the mother of Jesus, is recognized as a model saint for how dedicated she was to live out her vocation faithfully. Popular devotion has disguised this greatness with human values, has dressed her images in riches and crowns, and has attributed to her questionable attributes as “mediatrix,” and given her pietistic regal titles, both in prayer and song. I doubt that our devotions would be pleasing to her if they diverted our attention from her son.
I believe that my spirituality is made manifest in my prayer life. Some devotions and many hymns seem to make God and the saints “out there” or “up there.” How different for me are the devotional prayers in the Rites of Distributing Holy Communion Outside of Mass. It is meaningful for me to pray:
We praise and thank you, lifegiving One,
for eyes to see your goodness,
for ears to hear your Word,
for hands to touch and bless our world.
Or, in another,
He bestows his lifegiving Spirit
through whom all good things come.
He sends us his lifegiving Spirit,
to give meaning to our lives.
He grants us his lifegiving Spirit,
sharing his joy and to love us.
All this, we see – and share – and celebrate,
through the mystery of the breaking of the bread.
Each person has an individual and unique spirituality, whether one spends time in the silence of a church or communing with God’s beauty revealed during a stroll in a woods or while contemplating a sunset. I believe that all of us are united in some community, however loosely, with a communal spirituality. All of these communities are influenced by the inspirations and gifts of the Spirit of God through their historical bases. The Spirit fashions them through their cultural structures by living and working through all communities, nationalities, and nations. I feel it is that same Spirit that enables us to see through dehumanizing popular slogans, such as “politically correct,” which denies personal responsibility, or “pro-choice,” which really means a second choice. We get guidance to reject stereotyping and a “What’s good for Bull Moose is good for the world” mentality. I hope my individual and communal spiritualities both greatly influence the way I respond to the workings of this Spirit in my life, both alone and in my support of others.