EVER-ADAPTING CHRISTIANITY

In the triad of world/flesh/devil

it is almost always the sins of the “flesh”

that are attacked by churches –

birth control/adultery/abortion/pornography

and seldom do sermons preach about the sins of the “world” –

the lust for wealth and prestige that the ego loves.

 

But the difference between the True Self

and the False Self is the difference between

“True Centering” (on God) and “Ego Centering” (on Self).

 

In fact, the True Self can include the False Self

because the way we become whole as humans

is by embracing every aspect of our existence –

our weakness/failures/mistakes

by humility/not taking ourselves too seriously –

we grow by wholeness not by absolute moral purity

which we never reach anyway.

 

Still, we consign to the unconscious

all fantasy, all psychic associations connected with

words/numbers/stones/plants/animals –

but for primitives all these things had numinous power.

 

Friedrich Nietzsche dismissed all primitives

and fancied himself to be a Rational Existentialist –

one who has the courage to stare into the abyss of non-being

and discover complete loneliness, complete aloneness

if God is dead.

 

There have been many Rational Christian responses

that have deconstructed the “death of God” movement

and people like Marcus Borg and Bishop John Shelby Spong

have also helped us deconstruct Bibical Fundamentalism

and there are many Postmodern Christian thinkers

like Brian McLaren with his book A Generous Orthodoxy

and others have developed The Postmodern Bible

and The Cambridge Companion to Postmodern Theology.

 

As usual, Christianity has adapted to/learned from/gone beyond

whatever the world/the devil/the ego throws at us –

we always include and then transcend

all attempts to deconstruct the Truth.

THE TEMPLE VS THE MARKET

Humans are integrally part of evolution

because they arise from it

but in reflecting on it they stand apart from it.

Teilhard would agree with Julian Huxley that

“We are nothing if not evolution becoming aware of itself.”

 

This is true, but the secular mythology of constant progress

is that the axial person moves

from the myth and magic of primitive humanity

to the rationalism of the great past civilizations

to the post-conventional stage of Jungian ‘individuation.’

 

However, Johann Baptist Metz, a German theologian

noted that the common theme in western culture is

not individuation but individualism

either by materialistic success for oneself

or by non-materialistic self-fulfillment/self-actualization –

the message is always that self-interest

is more important than the good of society.

 

If the world is a temple, everything is sacred

and has inherent value, which includes you and me.

If the world is a market, everything has market value only –

and spirituality is foolish and a dead end.

 

The ego, like the market

 always has an opportunistic agenda

driven by ideology/fear/or anger

which feeds the False Self

whereas the True Self/the Soul has no agenda

except to help you see reality as it is.

 

The solution to the polarization of western culture

caused by individualism is contemplation.

True meditation is to be mindful –

to concentrate and look deeply

into the nature and roots of your inner life

and so to find your True Self/Soul

the Love which loves

God/Truth/and the Common Good.

LIBERATION THROUGH MINDFULNESS

All ‘holons’ (living systems)

have four fundamental capacities:

self-preservation/self-adaptation/

self-transcendence/and self-dissolution.

The 100 billion people who have come and gone

have always been caught up in ‘I’/‘We’/and ’It’ –

and they have always created ‘Its’ –

institutions/governments/religions

to control them and tell them what to do.

 

Persons with an insecure

or particularly avoidant ‘attachment style’

are much more prone to dramatic religious conversion –

out of a deep need for security

they follow religious authorities without question

and become fundamentalists in every religion.

 

However, when people go to retreat centers

often the monks teach them mindfulness

and that everything can be done mindfully

whether praying/walking/eating/working.

This new level of consciousness

liberates those with a fundamentalist bent.

 

Still, shadow projections can prevail

in every human conflict. The need to be

right/get your way/dominate/control others

can cause the breakup of relationships –

friendships/marriages/families.

 

But children and parents at least

help each other by standing together

through hardships at every stage:

infancy to old age –

through every manner of challenge

until death parts them

but even then, wise spouses

bravely accept and esteem widowhood

as a continuation of their marital vocation –

even death can be overcome with mindfulness.

 

MALE SPIRITUALITY

 

One of the best-kept secrets of our time:

although many men don’t care

a whit/a hoot/or a fig about spirituality

many other men deeply value their spiritual side.

 

By himself a man is not capable of success

when it comes to battling the assaults of evil

and so, many men today feel

they are in chains/powerless.

 

The need for boys to have heroes who slay dragons

symbolizes the male struggle

to gain consciousness and adulthood

rather than lapsing back into the bliss of unconsciousness

and being dominated forever by the mother.

Males must break with their mothers

and identify with their (hopefully mature) fathers

or they become mummy-boys not men

they never grow into adulthood

whereas girls can identify with their mother forever –

there is no need for a radical break.

 

Part of boys becoming conscious and adults

is learning mindful speech –

a man’s talk can bring true love

or kill the souls of girlfriends and wives.

 

Boys also need to learn to live in the NOW

for the present moment is our perfect teacher

who is always with us. In meditation men learn

how to tap into their present experience as it is –

insightful or not/scary or not –

they learn to face reality with courage.

 

The famous preacher Jonathan Edwards wrote

“It is the Spirit/Sophia/Wisdom working in men

that makes them see the beauty in the present moment/

the unity of all things/

makes them tender-hearted toward others/

and gives them a well-ordered and disciplined life.”

 

THE TRANS-PERSONAL MESSIAH

 

For the past 500 years, the scientific lens

in which everything is rational and testable

has been robbing us of the wonder

of the former magical/mythical era.

We should have integrated science and religion long ago

since they are both foundational to our makeup

of both body and spirit.

 

Immanuel Kant was on the right track –

he refused to let religion be reduced

to objective scientific explanation

because he demonstrated subjectivity

cannot be reduced to objectivity

and he was an enlightened Lutheran who believed

what contemporary theologians believe –

we are in a dynamic/trans-personal relationship with God.

 

Quantum theology today focuses on

‘sin’ as ‘missing the mark’

which implies a dynamic process of seeking

and flexible/multiple ways of arriving at the ‘mark’

rather than rigid/dualistic/mechanistic notions of right/wrong.

 

Scientific research shows three broad arcs

to human psychological growth:

pre-personal/pre-rational/pre-conscious

to personal/rational/conscious

to trans-personal/trans-rational/trans-conscious.

 

Scripture is tran-spersonal in Second Deutero-Isaiah

where we first hear that Yahweh is not just God of the Jews

but of all people, and we first hear of the Messiah

not just as the ideal king of the Jews

but as the Universal Ruler over all people.

 

The only way Buddhists and Christians

can keep Buddha and Christ alive today

is for their followers to live their teachings –

Jesus needs Christians to thoroughly practice

his central teaching, the Beatitudes

for, as Teresa of Avila said:

“The only feet/eyes/hands

God has are our feet/hands/eyes” –

The trans-personal Christ is mediated to the world through us.

 

 

 

LETTING GOD LOVE YOU

In the Paleolithic period when agriculture first developed

the fertility of the land was imaged

in the pregnant goddess statues

found all over Europe/the Middle East/India.

 

Modern science believes all religious claims

whether ancient/modern/literal/mystical

are a holdover from humanity’s childhood

like Santa Claus – science denies them all

as there is no empirical evidence for any of them.

 

However, religion is not focused on evidence

but on self-transformation – crossing the threshold

of any temple/church is meant to be self-annihilation

a reminder to let go of the small self/ego.

 

This is why entrances to the sacred are commonly guarded

by angels/saints/gargoyles/dragons/lions/bulls –

entering you undergo metamorphosis/

leave your secular/unholy self behind/

and discover the World’s Womb/Navel/Earthly Paradise.

 

The call to grandeur/union with God

and to the depths of misery/separation from God

are both integral parts of human experience

that only receive their ultimate explanation

in God’s revelation.

 

Christian love calls you to transcend your selfishness

to commit your self to the good of others

enabling them to realize their full potential.

 

But, contemporary psychology tells us that to love others

you must first love your self.

But true self-love involves loving your self

the way God loves you.

But none of us is capable of loving the way God loves –

you have to let God do it.

 

True self-love therefore involves letting God love you

the way only God can love you.

 

Then you can love your self and you can love others

the way only God can love them.

FINDING UNITY IN SPITE OF PLURALITY

In the inter-spirituality approach of Brother Teasdale

authentic enlightenment/awakening can be had

by deeply following any of the branches of the religious tree

of humanity’s search for the Godhead.

 

However, New Age/Alternative Spirituality’s rejection of dogma/

Joseph Campbell’s injunction to follow your bliss/

Krishnamurti’s radical openness to any spirituality

can lead naïve seekers into dabbling in the occult

and thus vulnerable to dark forces/false prophets.

A sense of the numinous can lead to deep calm/awe

or wild bacchanalian debauchery/dread.

 

Psychoanalysis/depth psychology was rejected

by many religious people because it disturbed

their ‘undisturbed conscience’ by showing them

the depths of their cruelty and hatred

that only the Cross of Christ can handle –

simplistic Christians were ironically afraid

of the depths of their own tradition

of deep Christianity.

 

Thomas Merton revealed western religion had lost

the deep wisdom/unitive tradition Jesus taught –

even in monasticism there are monks and nuns

dualistic in their thoughts/practices.

 

God created the universe with an end in mind:

a Christified cosmos.

Thus, despite the immensity of the universe

which could induce ‘cosmic terror’ in the naïve

the universe is a unity not an unrelated plurality

it is meaningful and purposeful

because it is grounded in the Cosmic Christ.

COSMOGENESIS: THE EVOLUTION OF LOVE

Science has shown us:

– all life comes from a single event, the Big Bang

– the universe is not a static, fixed event

it is a ‘cosmogenesis’ – ongoing creativity

– all life participates in this birthing

and is deeply connected.

 

Teilhard described evolution as a “biological ascent

towards greater unity and complexity

in which qualitative differences spontaneously arise.”

 

According to Raimundo Panikkar’s ‘cosmotheandrism’

– we cannot say ‘I’ without the divine

– we cannot say ‘Thou’ without consciousness

– we cannot say ‘It’ without the world –

all three are necessary for cosmogenesis.

 

Descartes’ ‘cogito ergo sum’ (‘I think therefore I am’)

arrives at his ‘self’ as an objective reality, a ‘thing’

and then arrives at ‘God’ as another ‘thing’

another finite being

instead of transcendent and infinite.

 

Looking straight at our ‘self’ makes us uncomfortable

so the essence of bravery is to live without self-deception –

the more we get to know our judgmentalism/arrogance/pettiness

– the less they can sink their fangs into us

– the more they lose their power

– the more we can love.

 

“The purpose of spiritual books like Introduction to the Devout Life

is to bring us to the love of God despite

the thousand darts of mockery

worldly people will throw at you.”

– Francis de Sales

 

We need Teilhard/Panikkar/de Sales to overcome the world

and keep cosmogenesis/cosmotheandrism/the evolution of Love/

the galaxies and stars

flowing like a mighty river.

RETURNING TO RADICAL AMAZEMENT

The sexual/social/self-preservation drives

are the raw material of who we are as humans

and so cannot be killed off

although ascetics try their hardest.

 

According to Rohr/Rolheiser/Fox

these drives are all good and just need to be

harnessed/channeled/integrated not killed off

so they give energy to our spiritual endeavours

and serve us not destroy us – they are good

not evil monsters/dragons/demons.

 

According to Immanuel Kant as you move morally

from being biocentric (sex and survival) to egocentric

to ethnocentric to worldcentric (universal compassion)

you also discover your higher/truer/deeper self.

 

If you expand your heart and mind infinitely

you come to God’s Infinite Love, the “Ultimate Thou”

and to your self as the “Ultimate I”

culminating in the “Ultimate I-Thou Relationship.”

 

But as we take on jobs/get married/join religions

everyone pressures us to do

in order for us to live up to their ideals

and as we shove more and more stuff

into our shadow-bag

by midlife we are a mere slice

of the 360-degree-self we started with.

 

We become fraught with “sins of omission”

including: not living lives of justice/

not being transformed/being ‘born again’

only once instead of many times/

leaving creativity/divinization/original blessing/

the cosmos out of our theology.

 

Radical Amazement by Judy Cannato

invites us back into contemplative awe/awareness

of black holes/supernovas/the wonders of the universe

 which are the key to self-transformation

and transformation of the world.

 

OVERCOMING OUR SHADOW AND OUR SUFFERING

Theologians try to make Christianity relevant

by showing theology follows scientific methods

or correlating it to some current philosophy

or urgent need: racism, nuclear war, climate change

but the problem behind all problems

is dualistic non-unitive thinking in the form of individualism.

 

Individualism, the triumph of the individual

the foundation of American culture, is ironically false freedom:

separation from others and therefore separation from God

who in Jesus exhorted us to “love others as our self”

and “love our enemies.”

 

America is ironically “Land of the free and home of the slave”

according to the artist formerly known as “Prince.”

Ironically too, America will only overcome its shadow history

by embracing it: “Taking up your cross today

means owning your own shadow

which is the essence of ethics/

integrity/spirituality/religion.” – Carl Jung

First recognize the log in your own eye

before trying to take out the speck in your neighbour’s eye.

Otherwise, you project your shadow onto others

and force them to carry your darkness.

 

We can use everything that happens in us

and that happens to us, to wake up:

Buddhism exhorts us to resolve the dualistic struggle

by embracing difficulties (our crosses)

and by meditating day and night.

“Seek in reading and you will find in meditating;

knock in verbal prayer and it will be opened to you

in contemplation” – Guigo the Carthusian.

 

But contemplation is always beyond us:

beyond art/philosophy/theology

even beyond discussion or explanation –

the language of God

is silence.

 

But the language of the blind and deaf Helen Keller is

“Life is full of suffering

and it is also full of the overcoming of suffering.”