7:00am CONTEMPLATION Ram Dass on NEEM KAROLI BABA, SEVA, SERVICE, LARRY BRILLIANT
8a-10a BUDDHA AT THE GAS PUMP Sister Ilia Delia
WASHINGTON — "We are dying -- and that's OK," Ilia Delio told a gathering of 150 Sisters of St. Joseph in Brentwood, N.Y., in late June.
"It just means something new is emerging. We need to become young again."
It was a bold statement, made all the more audacious by the fact that the average age of the assembled group was likely in the neighborhood of 72.
But Delio isn't concerned with chronological age. She's taking the long view: 13.8 billion years long, to be exact. The age of the universe. From her perspective, what may seem like upheaval and uncertainty in the future of religious life is just a natural stage in an unfolding evolutionary process.
"If we attend only to the breakdown," Delio says, "we think we're over. We see death. But that's a closed-system way of thinking."
A Franciscan sister, Delio reads the struggle between the Vatican and the Leadership Conference of Women Religious through the lens of systems theory, an idea often employed in the study of evolution.
Open systems, she says, remain open to their surrounding environment, and they respond to changes in the environment by reorganizing themselves. After the Second Vatican Council, most orders of women religious underwent a similar reorganization, transforming structures of rigid conformity into non-hierarchical, collaborative communities.
"An open system has a capacity for newness. New basins of attraction arise within the system and pull it, over time, in a new pattern of life. So chaos really is a saving grace," she says, adapting the notion of chaos theory from physics.
Welcome to the mind of Ilia Delio, where most questions related to the church or theology are answered through analogies to the physical sciences.
Delio is the rare theologian with doctoral degrees in both science and theology**. But at her heart, she is a teacher. She longs for you to see what she sees: the vast interconnectedness of human beings, God, and the universe.
3pm Gaia BIG BRAINS RADIO The Deadly Flaw in Our Judgment, with Cass Sunstein
"BEING RAM DASS" BOOK TALK WITH Friends and Author RAMESHWAR & MIRA BAI BUSH