Carine Philipse in conversation with Hein Blommestijn

Posted By Carine Philipse on okt 11, 2016

Complete text of the DVD accompanying this book, recorded on 11 June 2013 in Carine Philipse’s home.

Carine sings:

All that’s mine is Yours,
all that’s mine is Yours,
since I am Yours…
All that’s mine is Yours,
all that’s mine is Yours,
since I am Yours…

H.     We are here in the house Via Lucis – the Way of Light – in the Hague. Amidst royal palaces, the Peace Palace, government buildings, the Parliament building, the Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis, the Netherlands Institute of International Relations, in the home of Carine Philipse, the writer of the book You Sing in Me Your Name.

C.      The soul
knows many movements.

But once God,
He who is Love,
has awakened in her
the longing
to experience Him
in her deepest ground,
then she finds rest
nowhere else
but in Him alone.

When He grants her the grace
of being allowed to experience
oneness with Him,
then she is
entirely overwhelmed by this,
and beside herself
with joy.
Totally directed towards Him
and forgetting herself,
she wants to give herself
wholly to Him
and flows over
with gratitude.*

H.    Carine, when you look back on your life, can you point to a consistent thread running through it?

C.    Actually the clearest thread is that I have always been very much involved with what you might call the religious, ever since I was a small child. That happened spontaneously. When I was two years old, for example, I was extremely fascinated by angels. I can show you what I mean. When we, my mother and I, saw an angel in a book, then she drew a copy of it, at my request of course. Then she put it into a simple frame and hung it above my bed. I thought that was wonderful.

H.    It might be nice to have a look at that; let’s see it.

C.    (shows a picture) Look, here’s an angel my mother drew a very long time ago. I’m really pleased I still have it. So you see, she framed it in a very simple way and hung it above my bed.
This is Gabriel by Fra Angelico from Florence. It got all wet, but that doesn’t matter. I think it’s really lovely.

H.    As a child you were really interested in those angels.

C.    Yes, I lived entirely in that world.
Here’s something else that’s very nice (shows another picture). This is a little girl sitting under a tree, in the countryside, with birds and so on, and under it is written,

‘Pray and sing, for not one thing
goes well unless you pray.
Every child with love for God
sings to Him happily each day.’

So that was hanging above my bed too.

H.    And you also saw yourself sitting under that tree.

C.    Yes, it was so obvious to me that that was just how it was, but at the same time
I was a child that loved nature. I wasn’t some sort of esoteric little creature…
For instance I thought it was great that I was the strongest one in the class. We had sports in the afternoon and that left me cold, but during the break I challenged the boys to fight with me and I always won.
And I climbed trees.

H.    You didn’t just sit under the tree…

C.    No, no.

H.    If I understand you correctly, Carine, you lived in a world of angels and that was a world of God, who was very close.

C.    Yes, I’ve had that feeling all my life, really.

H.    And what did that mean, to live in God’s world, as a child?

C.    Well, It’s hard for me to put into words what that meant for me. I mean, as a child you’re naturally involved with it in a childlike way. For me the angels were beings from another world. And I was tremendously attracted to that world.
Later, when I was five or six, I was very much involved with saints. I was completely fascinated by them at that time. But at home we were liberal protestant; we had nothing to do with saints. Nor with praying and so on. But as a child I really wanted my mother to pray with me every evening. And I wanted to have my own little prayer bench. Where I got that idea from I really don’t know.
My mother wasn’t used to praying together with someone else. At some point I noticed that, so then I thought, Oh well, forget it. She felt uncomfortable.

H.    So actually you have no idea where those saints and that praying came from; it wasn’t something you grew up with?

C.    We belonged to a liberal protestant church and I was sent to the protestant kindergarten and Sunday school. So I shared in all that and naturally picked up something of that atmosphere. When I was twelve I played the leading role in a Christmas play at school. I was the archangel Gabriel and I had to tell the Christmas story. At the end I had to bless the people, like this, really. (Makes gesture with raised arms.)  That made a deep impression on me and then I knew: I’m going to be a minister.

H.    Already at that age?

C.     Yes, I can still remember that moment precisely.

H.     What did that mean for you, blessing people?

C.    I felt it as a mission and I suppose that at that time I already had the feeling: this religious world and the world of people – I must bring them into contact with each other.

H.    Bring them into contact with each other…

C.    Yes. That Christmas story was also about the Love of God of course and I just thought it was tremendously important to tell people that. Naturally, that is what I always did later as hospital chaplain and in church services. So that’s a very clear consistent thread running through my whole life.

H.    Yes indeed. Running through your whole childhood.

C.    Yes, yes.

H.    Your earliest childhood was marked by angels, saints, prayer and God. What happened to you after that?

C.    At secondary school the feeling of being in the grip of God – because that’s what it was, I felt that God was pulling at me – simply continued.
What is important – I was always planning to become a minister, you see – is that when I was in sixth form I thought, ‘Actually I no longer have any idea what I believe. So then of course I can’t become a minister.’
Then I went on to study Dutch and after a year and a half I had the feeling ‘I’m just missing my way if I don’t study theology… I must just go and study theology…. I don’t yet know exactly how to describe God, but that doesn’t matter, since you’re always on the way and it’s also quite unnecessary for me to be able to describe God precisely. That’s impossible anyway.
But it had such a pull on me… I didn’t even ring my parents to discuss it with them. Went straight to the dean of the Dutch department and the dean of the theology department. I said, ‘I’m switching to theology.’  Only then did I ring my parents.

H.    How did your parents react when you chose a different course of study?

C.    Well, my parents were actually… well, horror-struck is putting it a bit strongly, but they did say, ‘Your studies were going so well, shouldn’t you first get your B.A.?’ But I thought, I can’t face plodding my way through two and a half more years of Dutch before I can finally begin with theology. I was so convinced that ‘this is my way and I have to follow it’.

H.    Didn’t your fellow students think that was strange?

C.    No, I had my friends and they understood. Perhaps they’d already seen it coming.

H.    So then you go and study theology. What did that mean for you?

C.    I was studying in Leiden and I found the climate there rather rational. I remember I was in one of Professor Berkhof’s** classes, a really nice man, and we were talking about dogmatics and I said: ‘For me what applies is “Intimior intimo meo”.’ Augustine. God is closer to you than you yourself can ever be.
And Berkhof said, ‘I entirely respect that. So you just take a different view from my own.’ He was much more in the Barthian*** tradition which would have nothing to do with mysticism.
So far as that was concerned I didn’t feel at home in Leiden. At a certain point I went to live with my first partner in The Hague. We lived together for eleven years. And there I happened to open a cupboard and saw a box of index cards. A very simple card tray and it was full of notes about the way of prayer, the desert fathers, the Philokalia and so on.
For me it was as if heaven opened, because I naturallly had been looking for a way of praying for a long time. With Zen, and silence. But then I discovered the Jesus Prayer, which of course I’d never heard of at university. So I got hold of all those books that were still in print or I could buy second hand, I’ll show you one. Look: The Art of Prayer – it’s a collection of mainly Russian texts abut prayer.
But also Writings from the Philokalia on Prayer of the Heart. To my great joy the Philokalia was also published in English.
When I went on holiday I always dragged along one of these books.

H.    In that way you entered a new world.

C.    Yes, which I’d never encountered in my studies.

H.    A world in which prayer and the mystical tradition were very important.

C.    Yes, but I didn’t have the feeling at all that it was mysticism. So I began to pray, just one hour every day. And I always had the experience of oneness with God. I always felt it as if I was a bowl and as if God was pouring Himself out into that bowl. And the bowl got thinner and thinner. I had that image while I was praying, and it was very joyful.
I thought, everybody must have this experience, it must be normal. Only much later I heard from a colleague… very much later, ‘Oh no, that’s not common at all.’ I didn’t have anybody I could talk to about it, I would have liked that very much.

H.    What does that mean, that that bowl got much thinner?

C.     Well… being filled by God more and more, really.

H.    You began to live in an entirely new world, which was admittedly linked to theology but where at the same time you entered another genre, so to speak.

C.     This was of course completely unknown at Leiden… totally. It’s true there were people there who were very progressive, but more in the social sense, or they were dogmatic.
I had the Remonstrant Seminary where I was also a student. But this wasn’t discussed there either.
Another important thing is that I came across the first book by Kübler-Ross**** .
She conducted conversations with people who were dying. That had been taboo up to that time. Saying to someone, ‘You are very seriously ill and you are going to die’, that didn’t happen. They would say, ‘You have a stomach ulcer’ or something of that sort. That really excited me, and I thought, ‘I shall become a hospital chaplain.’
I studied a combination of theology and social sciences and I’ve always continued to follow courses in that field, since I thought a hospital chaplain actually has to do with the whole person and not just with religion. But just as much with people’s psychological make-up and with their social environment. So then I became a hospital chaplain. And I loved that.

H.    Your whole life has been hospital chaplaincy…

C.    Yes, I’ve also worked in nursing homes and in psychiatry. And four years as minister in a parish, but chaplaincy was really closest to my heart. And I also loved doing church services.

H.    What did it mean to you to be close to people, people who were ill, who were going to die?

C.    Very often, listening and being there and looking carefully to see what someone needed at that moment. Often a patient was so ill that you could only look at each other. I always asked people, ‘Do you want me to do anything more for you? Then they understood that I would read something or pray with them. And they very much wanted me to pray with them. Then I had the feeling that we were standing together before God and I felt, after that prayer too, the atmosphere of God’s Presence hanging in the room, very strongly.
I had absolutely no sense of ‘this person is ill and I am well’. Precisely because
at that time there were all sorts of things wrong with my own health too I had the feeling: ‘we are both human beings, we’re on a journey, we’re living in the Presence of God and at some point the moment of dying will come, but we don’t know when that will be, for either of us.’
So there was a very strong sense of solidarity there.

H.     For you it was living your own vulnerability and thereby giving attention to the vulnerability of others.

C.     Yes, and I also told them, when that was appropriate, that at that time all sorts of things were wrong with my health too, so that they didn’t have the feeling, here’s a minister sitting by my bed, who’s got her own life well sorted out. And I’m ill and I’m going to die. Yes, that solidarity I found really important. And if necessary, I fought for people too!

H.    You fought for people…

C.    Yes, if I thought they were getting too little attention from the specialist.
I was also a real kind of confidential adviser. I mean, people said to me, ‘I don’t really want any more treatment, but I don’t dare to say that to the doctor, nor to my children, actually.’  Then we’d talk about that and gradually they would reach the point where they did dare to say that.

H.    Being a pastor like that… leading church services in the hospital… What did that mean for you yourself?

C.    That was also tremendously inspiring for me. I mean the Love of God flowed between us and I felt that and they felt that too.
And my services… I never actually wrote anything down. So I simply said from my heart what came to me and then it was always about the Love of God for everyone. However you are, however you feel, however ill you are, however despairing you possibly feel, or however rebellious… you are always in God’s Love. And Jesus is there for you too, he also speaks to you. Yes, I thought it was wonderful to do that.

H.    Then at a certain point there was a turn in your life that changed everything completely.

C.    Yes, suddenly my marriage turned out to have gone wrong. That was around 2001, 2002. I was completely unprepared for that, so it came as a terrible shock. And then we separated indeed, which caused me a great deal of sorrow. I couldn’t work for a few months, because I was so devastated.
But during that time I kept singing, ‘ The Lord is my shepherd’, to a tune of my own that came to me.
During those months that became, ‘You are my shepherd’.
I began addressing God with the familiar form of the pronoun ‘You’. That has been very important.
On 1 January, 2003 I was sitting at the kitchen table preparing my service for Epiphany, the baptism in the Jordan. Suddenly I was overcome by an overwhelming experience of unity with God. It lasted for several hours and it was simply ecstatic, completely ecstatic. At a certain point I myself simply wasn’t there anymore. Actually only oneness was still there. The oneness with God.

H.    Epiphany, that means that God appeared to you. That you were no longer there. What did that mean?

C.     At that moment God had really become All. And then I actually said to God, ‘Go ahead. My life is Yours. Do what You want with it.’ I had never felt that so strongly.
But precisely because my life had collapsed, I mean my marriage had collapsed… And it was also not long after the 9/11 attack on the USA, which had made a deep impression on me… I had such a strong feeling that there was nothing I could hold on to, and that was true in my own life as well. There’s no certainty, no certainty in the outside world, no real certainty.

H.    That everything became quite different all at once…

C.    Yes. So then a very powerful mystical process began. I’m someone who chucks everything down on paper, even that experience, which you can later point to as an experience of a mystical breakthrough, I just wrote that down. While it was happening. Literally.
So I wrote down everything that happened. Just like that. I had to get it off my chest. So I chucked it all down on paper.

H.    Still without thinking that for other people it…

C.    No, absolutely not. No, no.
At that time I was receiving spiritual guidance from Gideon van Dam. One day I made an appointment with him and with much hesitation and embarrassment let him read what I’d written.
I remember that I said, ‘I’ll just go and get some tea…’ I wanted to disappear for a few minutes. Then he said, ‘This is mystical love poetry. Have you read much of that… Hadewych or anyone like that?’
I said, ‘No, actually I’ve only read about prayer.’ I had never applied the word mysticism to it myself. Then he said, ‘Have you ever thought of publication?’ I said, ‘No.’ Well, he was really surprised at that, but so was I (that he had said that).

H.     So then gradually pieces of writing emerged which became your diary. What does that mean for you, writing?

C.    Yes, I wrote every day, at a brisk pace I might say.

H.     You’ve written a lot, in fact.

C.    Yes.

H.    What did that mean for you, writing in that way? Look – praying, pastoral work… that’s one side. But now writing was more and more becoming a central aspect of your life.

C.    Writing also became more and more a dialogue with God. I did also reflect on what was happening, but I was actually writing to God. I was also writing about what happened during prayer.

H.    For you writing was a conversation with God.

C.    Yes, a conversation with God.

H.    And now your book is coming out. What does that mean, that you want to share it with others?

C.    Yes, I very much hope to inspire other people in this way and bring them a bit closer to that layer of God in themselves. For instance, during the Spiritual Guidance course for which at one point I led a group together with Gideon, for a number of years I read out from my diary and also sang songs, because songs also arose in me. Then the next day I would give them the assignment, ‘Go and sit in your own room and make sure you have everything you need, water to drink, paper, pencil… so that for the time being you don’t have to get up, and then realize that you’re in the Presence of God. Then put pen to paper and write without interruption.
Everything that occurs to you, including emotions like anger or sorrow, or joy, it makes no difference… write it all down. When you’ve done that for half an hour and you have the feeling, now I can round it off, then look at how you would like to address God at that moment. What is the most intimate way for you? How would you like to address God and what is your deepest desire towards God? Try to put that into a few words. That will then be a prayer of a few words.
For example, “Lord, bless me.”
Or, what I myself always pray, “O Loving One, do lead me”.’
Then I said, ‘That will become your continuing prayer that can always go with you… while doing the dishes or having stopped at a red light, you can pray then too. Or whenever you’re waiting anywhere… then you open yourself to God.’

H.     That assignment you gave to others, what does that mean when you think of your own writing? Were you really the author of your texts?

C.    No, I always had the feeling, what I write isn’t mine. And that whole mystical process isn’t mine or for me, but I am meant to pass it on.

H.    Why pass it on ….. what precisely?

C.    Well, as I said, to give other people something that brings them too into contact with God in themselves, or whatever you want to call it.
Those exercises or assignments brought an awful lot out into the open. They were colleagues, right? But writing to God like that released a huge amount, so that for instance they suddenly broke through a blockage they had had for years. Or that they finally dared to put into writing their anger with God. So for a number of people that was a real breakthrough.

H.    At a certain point your physical condition got steadily worse, so much so that you had to give up your work.

C.    Yes, yes… Due to improper medical treatment my health has been completely ruined. I have a raging headache all the time, I can hardly do anything anymore, actually; I can’t go for a walk anymore, I can’t cycle anymore, I can’t be taken anywhere by car anymore and yes, I had to give up my work.
I’d planned to move to Nijmegen, to live there with the man I love… and together to lead a life directed towards God. Shall I show you his photo? So in 2007 I intended to go and live with my beloved Michiel in Nijmegen to lead a life directed towards God. Besides, Nijmegen is really home for me, spiritually speaking. But that didn’t happen, because my health was so ruined. That’s terribly sad, of course…

H.    Tragic…

C.     Tragic, yes. Because he can’t move to The Hague either, on account of his health.

H.    He can’t come to you and you can’t go to him.

C.    No, all we can do is telephone and skype.

H.    You say, move to Nijmegen, your spiritual home. What does that mean? Why do you say that?

C.    I’ve become an associate member of the Carmelites. Your community as Carmelites, as parish, and also the School for Spirituality, the classes… all that just fitted me like a glove.
When I came back from Nijmegen and I’d followed a class and done all sorts of things there and I went back to The Hague, I really thought, ‘I’m returning again to my place of exile’. It was that strong. Because I just didn’t find what I was looking for here. I could set things up, and I did that, but as for finding something in which I felt at home… no. That was not so.

H.    Set things up… what do you mean by that?

C.     Well, for example I had an ecumenical group with whom I organized vespers, twice a week. And I set up reading groups for reading mystical texts. I still have two reading groups here at home.
So everywhere I started things up so as to be doing something with that sort of spirituality too, since I found that very much lacking here.

H.    In a sense you’ve become more and more a hermit these past few years, here in the Hague.

C.    Oh, there are enough people coming and going, that’s not the problem. (Laughs)

H.    But because of your physical condition you can hardly leave the house.

C.    No, I can’t go out anymore, and pain, severe pain, makes you very lonely too. For instance, when you lie awake at night and can’t sleep because of the pain, that’s terrible. But what keeps me going is a very strong experiencing of unity with God. That’s really there all the time.
Of course every now and then the pain makes me despair and I think, how can I go on, since it is getting steadily worse. Of course these are very normal human feelings, and also the sorrow about everything that has happened. But I just look at it with love…

H.    How is that possible, to look at your pain with love, when it’s unbearable?

C.    Well, it’s the only way.

H.    Why the only way?

C.    My spontaneous answer is, because God is Love.

H.    Yes, now too.

C.    Oh yes, definitely.
Naturally, that also applies to the people who have damaged me so much, doesn’t it?
I mean, I believe that a forgiving attitude – and of course I include forgiving myself, for allowing this to happen and not seeing it in time – just comes from the Love of God. The Love of God makes it happen.
Yes, of course, I’m also a human being, as I said, and sometimes I get angry and think, they should never have been allowed to do this. But still, that unity with God is always stronger.

H.    It makes me think of Christ on the Cross, forgiving the people who did that to him.

C.    Yes, he says, ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.’ And really, that is what Jesus is still, in our own time…
This is my favourite icon! (Shows icon.)
So this is an icon of Jesus, a very… close icon, I find. Very human. I feel that at the beginning of the mystical process I was sharing in Jesus’ enthusiasm and commitment and that I now also share in his suffering. That gives a sense of intimacy… that’s really extraordinary.

H.    Christ’s eyes with which he looks out, there’s something really special about them.

C.    Yes, gentle, very mild. When I go to bed I put him on the pillow next to me and give him a kiss, I kiss him… three times, and if I’m in bad pain in the night, then I reach out my hand and touch him.

H.    So he’s always close to you in your life…

C.    Always close, yes…

H.    …in your pain and in your being completely broken down he is very close.

C.     Just as I believe that Jesus is close to everyone who suffers.
And I also pray for all people who suffer, all beings that suffer in fact, but also for people who inflict suffering on others, because I believe that their own suffering is behind that. That it’s from their own suffering that they inflict suffering on others. And that they really don’t know that. So they know not what they do.

H.     In a sense you are left more and more empty-handed. And there’s almost nothing left, and yet…

C.     In the past when I was in a lot of pain – but that was not nearly as bad as it is now, of course, not so disabling  – I always felt that life was being reduced to the essential, and for me the essential was God. That’s happening now too of course, very, very strongly. Because I really have no more control over anything. I can hardly do anything anymore. I lie in bed for much of the day, and yet… yes, God is the essence of my life.

H.    Isn’t it very important to help people to discover this? People are often inclined to think the other way round: I’m in pain or I’m ill or I’m dying, and God is the cause of it.

C.    God is the cause of it…

H.    With you it’s just the other way round.

C.    No, God isn’t the cause of our suffering. No, definitely not, no.

H.    If you now look at people who are going through that, what sort of counseling would you… how do you see that?

C.     If people have the feeling that God is the cause of their suffering… that God sends suffering to them, that’s what you mean, don’t you? In the hospital I had a good deal of experience of that and I always tried to engage in dialogue with it. Because it’s often a question of old ideas learned early on at home.
So I then tried cautiously to set next to these old ideas… ‘God is Love’. It’s absolutely not God’s intention to put you to the test by inflicting suffering on you or anything like that. It simply happened and naturally it’s awful that it’s happened… but God is Love.

H.    So it’s very important to help people to discover that God is Love and that He loves each one of them.

C.    God loves us precisely as we are, even if we turn away from Him. I believe that if you turn away from God, that is really the height of powerlessness you can reach as a human being.
I mean, if you curse God, that’s less serious, but if you shut yourself up in yourself with your misery and no longer open yourself to God, that is the height of powerlessness, I believe. I’ve had that myself a couple of times, oh yes, but then I thought, I must keep the contact open, otherwise I’ll make myself desperately unhappy too.

H.    In spite of your condition, you still counsel people.

C.    Yes. So, I’ve still got two little reading groups with whom I’m reading Eckhart and Ramakrishna. All religions are equally important, in my view. I recognise the mystical zeal in all religions.

H.    God belongs with people, with all people.

C.    Yes. Exactly.
I’m also writing a diary about the time I’m living in now: so, what it’s like to live with so much pain and of course also the despair and fear that goes with that, the sleeplessness and the sorrow. Because of course, from the human point of view, my life has in fact collapsed completely.
But what it’s like to live like this and yet to experience that oneness with God, time and again… That awareness of that oneness, that is simply the cork that keeps me afloat.

H.    You wish for others that they too may discover this.

C.    Yes, that is why I’m writing about it now. With a good deal of hesitation I may say, because what I write is such a heap of misery that I think, won’t this scare people off? (Laughs.)
But… even in a situation like this, God is there. He’s always there.

H.    Carine, would you read out the poem that’s really at the heart of your book?   

The way of the soul

1.  The soul
knows many movements.

2.  But once God,
He who is Love,
has awakened in her
the longing
to experience Him
in her deepest ground,
then she finds rest
nowhere else
but in Him alone.

3.  When He grants her the grace
of being allowed to experience
oneness with Him,
then she is
entirely overwhelmed by this,
and beside herself
with joy.
Totally directed towards Him
and forgetting herself,
she wants to give herself
wholly to Him
and flows over
with gratitude.

4.  After that
she remains behind, bewildered,
and can only long
to be allowed
to experience anew
that highest happiness.

5.  This longing
can be fierce and painful,
for the soul now knows
the overwhelming joy
of experiencing
oneness with Him.
And perceives
this experiencing
as her true destination,
her final homecoming.

6.  Yet there is on the bottom of the soul
an unwavering knowing
that always
and whatever should happen
she is one with Him
and can never
be separated from Him.

And that she has all along
been ‘at home’,
with Him.
All along.
Because He
has known her and loved her
to her deepest being,
since her very beginning.

7.   Unwavering
is this knowing
that she is one with Him
and that she is in Him
and He in her,
just as all
is one with Him
and safe in Him.

who is All,
and transcends all,
who is the ground of all
and carries all
and in whom all
arrives at its destination.

8.   This unwavering knowing
becomes increasingly
the core,
from which the soul
lives in reality.
She now recognizes her Beloved
for He
looks at her
in every human being,
in every animal,
in all Creation,
and so too
in her own deepest ground.

In everything
He looks at her.

And so her whole life
becomes enlightened
from within
by this unwavering knowing.

9.    In this knowing that she is one
with Him,
the soul now finds
her highest peace
and joy.

This peace and joy
can never more
be taken from her,
whether she lives
or dies.

And that is why
she no longer depends
on experiencing
with Him.

She knows
she is one
with Him
and that
is enough for her.

10.  Now He has
freed the soul
from herself.
But not for the sake
of herself.

She has become completely empty
of herself
and desires nothing more
for herself.

She is entirely free
for Him
and wholly
at His disposal.

He moves her
from within.
He lives in her
and fills her completely
with His Being.

And she
has no more notion
of herself,
now only
of Him.

And therein
lies her destination.

Music and poem: ‘The soul knows many movements’

Interview: Hein Blommestijn
Idea: Wobbe van Seijen
Camera and montage:  Frans Smink
Music: Martin Pals

*The Way of the Soul, 5 May 2003, verses 1- 3.
**Dr. Hendrikus Berkhof (1914-1995) was a professor of Systematic Theology at the University of Leiden from 1960 until 1981. The first edition of his most important book, Christelijk Geloof [Christian Faith] was published in 1973. As minister of a congregation during World War II, he was involved with ecclesiastical resistance. Thereafter he was a long-standing member of the Central Commission of the World Council of Churches and chairman of the Council of Churches in the Netherlands. Berkhof was an orthodox theologian who could identify with the writings of Karl Barth, but he was always open to dialogue with people who thought differently; he functioned as a bridge builder.
***Karl Barth (Basel, 1886 – Basel, 1968). He was a professor of Dogmatics in Germany, where he refused to conform to rising national-socialism. He was a professor in Basel from 1935 until 1961, and the founder of Dialectical Theology, also known as Neo-orthodoxy. According to Barth, God reveals himself “Senkrecht von Oben” [intersecting our world vertically from above],  and is encountered only in the revelation in which Jesus Christ holds a central place. In addition, the Bible is the only source of knowledge of God. All other ways are dismissed as natural theology or natural religion, instead of faith. His most important writings include: The Epistle to the Romans (second edition: 1921) and especially his Church Dogmatics (1927), which he  continued to work on until his death.
****Dr Elisabeth Kübler-Ross (1926-2004), a Swiss-American psychiatrist , author of On Death and Dying (1969), which made a great impact. Her message that dying is an important part of life was seen in the 1960s and ‘70s as breaking through a major taboo. She taught psychiatry at the University of Chicago and conducted conversations with patients in the final phase of their lives. Her work brought about a cultural shift in behaviour towards the dying.

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