TIME & THE MYSTERY w/ Mike Mangione: Cellist Ben Sollee and Victories, Pangs and Ambitions of the Creative Lifestyle 

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[Mike Mangione is a nationally touring musician and podcast host. To subscribe to his podcast, Time & the Mystery, on iTunes click here. To learn more about his music, click here.]

[Click here to listen to Time & the Mystery.]

I met Ben when we were both starting out as young traveling songwriters. At the time, Ben was playing cello as part of The Sparrow Quartet alongside Bela Fleck and finishing his debut record. I was living in a van… While touring through Tennessee and Kentucky in the summer of 2015, I made a stop to visit my old friend and catch up. Now husbands, fathers and veteran songwriters, Ben and I discuss the victories, pangs and ambitions of the creative lifestyle.

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COR THOUGHTS 158: Drinking Deeply from Heavenly Breasts

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“Let all the earth cry out to God with joy,” we proclaim in this Sunday’s Responsorial Psalm. Joy in this life is the fruit of finding the true hope of satisfying the deepest desires of the heart. What is the first desire we all felt at birth if not hunger for the breast, hunger for mother’s milk? In this Sunday’s first reading, turning to the great feminine figure of Jerusalem, the prophet Isaiah uses this as an image of the fulfillment that awaits us in heaven: “Oh, that you may suck fully of the milk of her comfort, that you may nurse with delight at her abundant breasts!” The basic principle of John Paul II’s Theology of the Body (which is a basic principles of all of Christian theology) is that physical reality is a sign or icon of spiritual reality. When we let the icons of heavenly fulfillment lead us to the reality of heavenly fulfillment, the icons are doing their job. When we take our desire for heavenly fulfillment and aim it at the icon itself, the icon becomes an idol. Hence the rampant idolatry of breasts in our world today. Our primordial hunger and thirst, our primordial yearning to be comforted, satisfied, delighted, and fulfilled is revealed in the theology of the breast. This Sunday’s Gospel closes with words of great hope for those who know this hunger and thirst: “rejoice because your names are written in heaven.” Learning to rejoice in this will save us from all our idolatries.

151. Theology of the Suffering Body

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I just wrapped up my Theology of the Body level II course with the TOB Institute this past Friday. A student emailed me over the weekend and asked how she was to rejoice in her body when, because of chronic illness, her body has made her suffer tremendously, to the point of being strongly tempted to hate her body. Understandable, indeed.

Here’s how I address this in the forthcoming updated and expanded edition of Theology of the Body for Beginners:

TIME & THE MYSTERY w/ Mike Mangione: Arian Moayed Is a Lighthouse

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[Mike Mangione is a nationally touring musician and podcast host. To subscribe to his podcast, Time & the Mystery, on iTunes click here. To learn more about his music, click here.]

[Click here to listen to Time & the Mystery.]

After leaving high school, Arian Moayed and I set out on separate artistic journeys. Mine led me to the West Coast and eventually living in a van for a couple years. Arian’s, on the other hand, led him to New York where he co-founded the theater company Waterwell. Twelve years after high school graduation, I sat in a Broadway theater in New York and watched my old friend alongside Robin Williams in the production “Bengal Tiger At The Baghdad Zoo.” Arian was nominated for a Tony Award for that performance.

From that point forward, anytime I was in the city I was either seeing his latest production or he was coming out to watch my band. Over the span of five years, what started as a rekindled friendship quickly developed into a source of solace. Our conversations began to slip deeper into the artistic struggle, increasing in metaphor, shorthand and our own vulnerability; a conversation rooted in the past, informed by our mutual experience and fueled by our desire to help others. Arian is an artist of the ache, an artist of the heart. In my experience as an artist I have come to find that the greatest resource one can have is camaraderie in the crucible. The artist needs something beyond support, they need eye-level conversation and only another in the trenches can fill this role.

Eighteen years later, our paths are woven and Arian has become a comrade in this journey. He has become a lighthouse. In a world that can seem dark, we need hope. We need light to break the void and guide us forward. We need the bearers of light to help us navigate our course and show us where we are. Arian is this bearer of light and I wish to share him with you. I give you Time & The Mystery: Conversations with Arian Moayed.

— Mike Mangione

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COR THOUGHTS 157: Live by the Spirit and Not by the Flesh

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In this Sunday’s second reading, Saint Paul contrasts living “by the Spirit” (good) with living “by the flesh” (not good). This does not mean, as many have tragically concluded, that Saint Paul condemns the body or thinks of it as an inherent obstacle to living a “spiritual” life. As Saint John Paul II proclaims so boldly in his Theology of the Body, the body is the specific vehicle of the spiritual life. In Paul’s terminology “the flesh” refers to the whole person (body and soul) cut off from God’s indwelling Spirit. It refers to a person dominated by vice. The person who opens himself to life “in the Spirit” does not reject his body. Rather, he opens his whole body-soul personality to divine inspiration. In this way, even our bodies “passover” from death to life: “And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you” (Rom 8:11).

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