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What do we mean by glory?





For most of us, the word "glory" is a somewhat old-fashioned sounding word that seems to mean being really impressive or flashy. If we grew up religious, it may also connect to God, and the idea that we "give all glory" to him.


But in the sacred writings, glory is much greater than this. It does have the sense of importance, significance, and worth. But it also connects with beauty, harmony, righteousness, and peace. It is aesthetic, ethical, and relational, and points to the interconnectedness and inherent dignity of all things. All things derive their worthiness, beauty, and existence itself from the Creator. As the prophet says, "Heaven and earth are full of your glory!" We could even translate it, "Heaven and earth are the fulness of your glory!" In either case, the prophet's cry is in alignment with both the writings of other prophets in the scriptures, and with the great philosophical traditions and sages of many cultures.


This glory is not something that can be possessed alone. It's a beauty or harmony which binds all things together, and which each of us manifests in our own unique way--but never in isolation. That's because it is a relational reality. It is not about anything in creation being inherently "good" or "bad," "pure" or "impure." Rather, it's about how each thing which was created good relates to all the others. In this way, it's something very like the tao or "Way" of Chinese philosophy. Mystic Simone Weil might call it "the beauty of the world," the transcendental heart of harmony we sometimes get a taste of in the grandeur of creation or in the beauty of art. Greek philosophy called it the logos (Word) or sophia (Wisdom)--the internal logic and sense behind all things.


We are most truly ourselves when we are truly aligned with the divine glory and pursuing healthy, re-kin-ciled relationships in our lives.


But for most of us, life is marked by experiences of shame--the feeling we have when we recognize brokenness and wounds in our lives and our community, the feeling we get that not all is as it should be. In fact, shame can be understood as the greatest testimony to glory: we long for a reality which none of us have fully experienced, and yet we can't stop longing for it. Glory is embedded deep within our nature. In fact, it is our true nature, which we often rebel against and wound.


There is nothing better we can commit ourselves to than the pursuit of true glory (Rom. 2:7), to beholding it, and to letting it infiltrate our lives. Our Creator is also committed to the pursuit of glorifying his creation again, and re-kin-ciling all things inside of himself. He is the logos or Logic of the universe, the Beauty of the Whole World, the endless fountain of Love and Harmony. There is a Love at the center of the universe that is not merely an impersonal force, there to be harnessed or appealed to at our own whim. The Source of Glory is not just an essence of Love, but is actively Loving the universe. This means that there is not just a healing stream, but a Healer. There is not just a force drawing us toward the Good, but a Person actively pursuing us for our Good, and even getting in front of us when we no longer know how to turn in that direction. For the Goodness at the center is also the Life. He is home, he is the Way home, and he is the Friend who knows the Way. He is the Warrior who rescues us from ourselves.

Individualism & Collectivism

All cultures could be placed on a spectrum from individualistic to collectivistic. In order to help us more clearly see what this means, we will make some generalizations about the extreme ends of the

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