Bob Van Oosterhout

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A Spiritual Question

I have always had a strong interest in comparative religion and have had a daily practice of spiritual reading for over forty years.  At the end of 2011, I decided to spend a full year focusing on the essential works of each of the major spiritual disciplines.  I started with Buddhism in 2012 and moved on to Chinese philosophies the following year, followed by Islam, Hinduism and Judaism.  I designated this year, 2017 for the study of indigenous religions. 

I noticed that each of the major religions and spiritual disciplines had an underlying thread of unity and noted evidence of this theme in my early reading of indigenous religions.  However, after reading Diarmuid O’Murchu’s “In the Beginning was the Spirit” and “Wise Women of the Dreamtime” by K. Langloh Parker and Johanna Lambert, I realized there may be another common thread in the major spiritual traditions:  They all focus on the spiritual development of the individual while the earlier traditions described by O’Murchu and Lambert appear to emphasize a spirituality of community.   

The religions and philosophies I had studied until this year seem to contain common threads of both unity and individuality.  Individuality indicates separateness while unity means coming together.  Is there an inherent contradiction here?

I found this to be an interesting question with  potentially wide reaching implications.  What if spiritual development is, in fact, a collective effort?  What if my personal spiritual progress is dependent, not only on my own growth, but on how well we all learn to work together?  That would make each one of us responsible for, not only ourselves, but the development of the whole.

If God is love (another common thread I saw the writing in all major religions), and the purpose of life is to unite with God, then the purpose of life is learn to love.  Seeing this as a collective rather than a solo effort shifts the emphasis from intent to outcome, from personal to interactive.  Wanting to love and trying to be loving may not be enough.  We may need to succeed in love - ultimately to bring all of humanity and all of life together in unity.



Always Choose Love: Presentation at Interfaith Center for Spiritual Growth Feb 12, 2017

I completed four years of training as a Lay Minister with the Diosese of Saginaw and the three years Lay Preacher training under the direction of Bishop Ken Untener.  I preached during Sunday liturgies from 2000 through 2005.

Click here to read Bob's Homilies

Daily Dose of Love: Contemplating the Gospel Message of Love Throughout the Year 

The Daily Dose of Love combines the 4 Christian gospels (NRSV) into one story divided into 365 passages with a reflection on a message about love for each day. The focus is on understanding the challenge to love in daily life based on the gospel message.


Principles of Love

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Daily Dose of Love Weekly Chapters

Comments, suggestions and feedback on the Daily  Dose of Love are much appreciated.  Please click on "Sign my Guestbook" to leave a note.