“The Ultimate Path is without difficulty; just avoid picking and choosing. As soon as there are words spoken, ‘this is picking and choosing, this is clarity.’ This old monk does not abide within clarity; do you still preserve anything or not?” – Blue Cliff Record, Case 2
My name is Chris Ottenbreit. I chose a pseudonym rather than use my actual name. Why is not important. I will instead offer a little background to help readers better understand the posts.
From 2008 to 2015 the posts on the blog come from a deconstructive phase of my spiritual faith development. Posts on this blog in 2016 and later come from a period of faith and spiritual reconstruction.
In my faith formation I began as a cradle Roman Catholic who came from a very traditional Catholic background. I am well versed in Mass in the Extraordinary Form (low and high), Code of Canon Law (CIC), Purgatorial Society, etc.
In 1988 I received a certification as a religious education teacher, from the Archdiocese of Detroit. I have also taught scripture basics within the Catholic Church for both youth and adult formation over a nine year period. I was married in the Catholic Church in 1985 and raised 3 daughters through the Catholic School System.
I started this blog in 2008 to lend a voice to the deconstruction of my faith. It was a bitter and divisive time in my life. I was definitely not on the ultimate path in those dark times.
I continue this blog in support of the reconstruction of my faith, with the help of mystics like Jean-Pierre de Caussade.
God still speaks today as he spoke to our forefathers in days gone by, before there were either spiritual directors or methods of direction. The spiritual life was then a matter of immediate communication with God. It had not been reduced to a fine art nor was lofty and detailed guidance to it provided with a wealth of rules, instructions and maxims… All they knew was each moment brought its appointed task, faithfully to be accomplished. That was enough for the spiritually-minded of those days… This is the spirituality of all ages and all conditions… Jean-Pierre de Caussade.
I added some faith deconstruction topics here. Think of these topics as a good place to recognize what underlies the blog posts from 2008 to 2015.
- The collection of writings that comprise the New Testament Cannon are not history books. The authors of the four Gospels were not historians and did not intend people to read the Gospels as an actual history of the life of Jesus. The writings are not to be understood literally. What we have in our Bibles are not even completely accurate to the original author’s original work. To be clear; the Bible cannot be read literally and does not document the history of Jesus.
- For those who are familiar the literary tradition of the “combat myth” this information will not be news to you. Angels are literary devices and have no substance in reality other than their use in literature. It needs to be noted that this includes Satan. To be absolutely clear; there is no such thing as Satan. No Michael the Archangel, no Gabriel, no Satan, and no battle of good and evil. The 1 Enoch story of the fallen angels that led to the creation of what traditionally is attributed to Satan is nothing more than a Judean combat myth.
I added some faith reconstruction topics here. Think of these topics as the launch point for a mature faith.
- In the contemplative state knowledge can be understood as moving from naive realism, to the recognition of the emptiness of words, and finally to the realization of multiplicity and oneness. “Before enlightenment, a mountain is a mountain. During enlightenment, a mountain is not a mountain [because words are forgotten]. After enlightenment, a mountain is a mountain [because now I see the mountain before me, as it is, rather than merely my idea of it. I see it as spontaneously unfolding, intimate and inseparable from me].”
- In Catholic contemplative terms we can consider the knowledge of the Eucharist this way: Before enlightenment, bread is bread and wine is wine. During enlightenment, bread is not bread and wine is not wine. After enlightenment, bread is bread and wine is wine. The Eucharist spontaneously unfolds, becomes intimate and inseparable from me.