My Encounter With Michael Morwood
I am very committed to increasing both religious and spiritual literacy. They are not the same.
Religious literacy has to do with what knowledge and information people know about various religions, including the one they profess. For example, many people cannot name the five largest religions in the world, the Five Pillars of Islam or the Four Noble Truths of Buddhism.
Spiritual literacy has to do with wisdom and understanding, with awareness of and growth in the values that unite us as humans, connect us to each other and to all of the earth. I am thinking of how we experience, grow in and express values like peace, love, joy, patience and humility.
Religious literacy is about opening up “head space.”
Spiritual literacy is about opening up “heart space.”
As a spiritual teacher I feel one of my moral obligations is to work diligently at keeping my “head space” open. I want to grow in knowledge and information about religion and religious matters. The major way that I do this is by reading and studying.
I rely on many, many resources to keep me informed. One of these is a website/newsletter put out by an organization called “Progressing Spirit.” This is the organization that, for years, sponsored sending out regular pieces written by Shelby Spong, someone many of you know. If you are interested in knowing more, click here.
I had gotten behind in my reading and used some of the Christmas holiday season to catch up. In doing this I read a series of three interviews with a former Roman Catholic priest who lives in Australia. I had never heard of him but what I read really energized me. If you would like to read or download these interviews, click here.
After reading these interviews, I wondered if he had written any books. I got on Amazon and found two: “In Memory of Jesus” and “It’s Time: Challenges to the Doctrine of the Faith.” I downloaded them and read them immediately. I found other books of his that aren’t in e-book format and got those as well: “Is Jesus God? Finding Our Faith” and “God is Near: Trusting Our Faith.”
All of this led me to be curious as to whether he had a website. He does. And, if I could contact him. I could.
We began to exchange e-mails and one thing led to another.
His schedule does not permit him to spend an extended weekend with us as earlier speakers have. He is stopping in Houston on his way from Phoenix to New York.
He has left the priesthood and now spends his time offering spiritual direction and leading retreats. The title he has given his time with us is “Reshaping Religious Imagination and Thinking.”
I encourage you to open your head space by reading the interviews. Then the books I would recommend are “In Memory of Jesus” and “It’s Time.”
By the way, the five largest religions in the world are Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Christianity and Buddhism.
The five pillars of Islam are: Faith in one God, alms giving, praying five times a day, fasting during Ramadan and making a pilgrimage to Mecca.
The Four Noble Truths are: the truth of suffering, the truth of the reason of suffering, the truth of freedom from suffering and the truth of the path to liberation.