Why the Name “Gravity?”

We often get the question, “So why did you choose the name ‘Gravity’?” It’s a great question. One of our teachers, Thomas Keating, O.S.O.C., helps shed light on the concept.

Keating, a 90 year old Cistercian monk of the strict observance is one of the leading voices illuminating the relevance of Christian faith in the 21st century. He finds himself in the company of other great Western Christian teachers like Richard Rohr, O.F.M. and Cynthia Bourgeault, Episcopal priest.

The impact of Keating’s teaching on Christian faith today and in centuries to come is and will be of a magnitude that the world has probably not seen for 400 years—since the time of the Reformation.

If you don’t know of Keating, it’s time to pay attention.

A student of Yale University and Fordham and student of psychology and philosophy, Keating helps us understand the implications of theological and scriptural concepts on faith and spiritual practice. Knowledge of psychology and human development theory unavailable 2,000 years ago at the time of Jesus and New Testament writers breaks open for us concepts like, “In Christ you are a new creation;” and “Why is it I do what I don’t want to do…” (Romans 7; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 6:11 & 15). Drawing on St. Paul’s teaching on the old and new creation and Thomas Merton’s 20th century language “true self” and “false self,” Keating illuminates what human transformation is all about.

In his book, Invitation to Love, Keating explains the formation of psychological programs for happiness is based in infantile biological needs for security and survival, power and control, and affection and esteem.

“As a consequence [of the formation of the false self], our emotional life ceases to grow in relation to the unfolding values of human development and becomes fixated at the level of the perceived deprivation. The emotional fixation fossilizes into a program for happiness. When fully formed it develops into a center of gravity, which attracts to itself more and more of our psychological resources: thoughts, feelings, images, reactions, and behavior. Later experiences and events in life are all sucked into its gravitational field and interpreted as helpful or harmful in terms of our basic drive for happiness. These centers are reinforced by the culture in which we live and the particular group with which we identify, or rather, overidentify.” (Invitation to Love, Keating, p. 27)

“The false self develops in opposition to the true self. It’s center of gravity is the self as separate from God and others, and hence turned in on itself.” (Invitation to Love, Keating, p. 59)

Needs that are fundamental to a child become a problem as we grow into adulthood and one can’t help but overidentify with them. Overidentifying with these programs creates the false self and leads to much of the breakdown of family and community, as well as violence, exploitation, poverty, war and terrorism.

The Christian invitation is to change our behavior that leads to so much destruction of ourselves and others and grow up (Acts 26:20; 1 Cor 3:1-3; 2 Corinthians 7:2 & 9, Ephesians 4; Hebrews 5:11-14; Hebrews 6:1; 2 Peter 3:9).

To use language that speaks to 21st century people, the Christian spiritual journey is an invitation to subvert the center of gravity within us that is controlled by the false self and allow that center to be replaced with the presence of God who holds our true self, unleashing unimaginable goodness in the world (1 Corinthians 6:19; Ephesians 4:5,9).

The name ‘Gravity’ was chosen for our Center to support this transformation in your life. It IS possible to live from the Divine center of gravity within us that orders our chaos and frees us to live the values of the Gospel: freedom, reconciliation, peace and unconditional love. Values that can change the world.

Together we can do good better. Thanks for joining this revolutionary movement.

See also, Greg Richardson’s thoughtful blog post on Gravity.