Encountering the Wisdom of Jesus
Although Christian tradition often cites Jesus as prophet, healer, priest, revolutionary, and teacher, Jesus’ wisdom teachings are not usually highlighted. The Reverend Doctor Cynthia Bourgeault states these teachings are much more than “nice.” Jesus’ wisdom teachings, which are now becoming more familiar, are more akin to Buddhist koans. Not only do they require students to leave behind their earthly training to grasp their interpretation, but their meanings transform their students toward a wisdom way of knowing.
In Bourgeault’s six-CD perspective on “encountering the wisdom Jesus,” spiritual directors and others in spiritual formation can marvel at the multiple ways Jesus shared these teachings. Encountering the Wisdom Jesus series will have the most success with those who have a baseline understanding of Christianity and Jesus. Bourgeault uses those bases to show us the wisdom of Jesus.
As an appreciative consumer of Bourgeault’s spiritual workshops and writings, I find this CD echoing familiar themes. Bourgeault takes threads from her previous tapestries to weave an overview of wisdom’s multiple connections to the world of spiritual formation. This CD suggests several starting points to reach the rich wisdom resource that Jesus taught.
Bourgeault poses a challenge to Christians: “Without the New Testament, would you follow Jesus?” (CD 2, track 2.) Bourgeault posits it was largely Jesus’ wisdom teachings that kept the first disciples coming back, and suggests that what draws us to Jesus is the same as the first follower’s attraction to him.
As a spiritual director, I look to the interests of directees as possible openings to introduce other delights of spiritual formation. If directees resonate with the beatitudes, Bourgeault shows us how a wisdom view of verses can start or sustain a person on the road to transformation. Should we have directees who explore meditation orlectio, Bourgeault suggests how spiritual directors can encourage them on their way to wisdom. For the directees preferring popular culture, we can use film and contemporary writing as introductions to wisdom. This CD has comments on The Da Vinci Code made from the wisdom perspective. We also hear comments on Passion productions, including The Passion of the Christ film, as well as plays and orchestral pieces. Wisdom teaches that Jesus voluntarily chose the Passion, rather than Jesus becoming the object of the Passion. If our directees favor parables, Bourgeault walks us through a few of them with their particular wisdom message. At first it seems the wisdom way of looking is an off the wall perspective. However, Bourgeault states that these forms of teachings were designed to take us out of our comfort zone to encourage us to use, drawing on computer jargon, the heart as primary operating system.
I recommend Encountering the Wisdom Jesus as it allows us to encounter Jesus’ wisdom from multiple starting points. Bourgeault provides guidance for the spiritual director to meet the directee in the variety of places where he or she already is, and to encourage following a wisdom way of knowing.
Roger Lee lives in Seattle, Washington, USA. He is a spiritual director who is on the planning committee of a wisdom school, which will feature annual classes by Cynthia Bourgeault and others. He received his initial guidance on the spiritual director path from the Vancouver School of Theology at the University of British Columbia.