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.

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.

 

ONE RELIGION FOR ALL?

 A basic principle of Quantum Theology:

we must begin with the whole, the Unmanifest Source

of All that is within each part.

 

The obsession of science with objectivity/analysis/data

tells us nothing about reality and life

in its wholeness/depth/relationality –

these are mysterious forces of attraction in Nature

that cannot be explained by science alone.

 

Life transcends not only science/rationality/thought

but also our other big obsession, the pursuit of money:

play transcends money by reminding us

we are not just workers

and art transcends money by helping us see

hidden and deeper aspects of reality

than just producing and consuming.

 

Christianity became overly-rational

to oppose the over-rationalism of the Enlightenment –

in Europe this became highly academic theology

and in America fundamentalism – an over-reaction

to religious rationalism – but it left out reality

which includes everything – including inclusivity/

environmentalism/and other religions.

 

Some rationalism in religion is beneficial:

the Parliament of the World’s Religions

developed a “Global Ethic” – ethical guidelines

for all humans, religious or not

but this does not mean “a global ideology/

a single unified religion beyond all religions/

or a religion that dominates all others.”

 

The Parliament recognizes God’s love of diversity

and the Dalai Lama with his impish sense of humor

said that to have good interreligious dialogue

we need to honor the diversity of religions:

“To try to be Christian and Buddhist at the same time

is like putting a yak’s head on a sheep’s body.”

 

In short: it is impossible to reduce everything

to science/money/one religion.

 

 

FRESH AND GREAT REVELATIONS

 

 St. Gregory of Nyassa wrote that the contemplative life

cannot be lived in secular society

but St. Basil claimed it is possible while you work

to pray with your mouth/heart/mind.

 

At the monastery, Thomas Merton learned:

– how to pray while working as a laborer

– how to be a member of the human race

– that every other human being is no more crazy

and ridiculous than he claimed to be – than we all are.

 

Merton also learned and contemplated:

– fear is the awareness of one’s own finitude

– the possibility of one’s own nonbeing

– that anxiety is natural for mere mortals.

All these were great revelations to him.

 

Today extreme theological traditionalists

try to overcome anxiety by ignoring the past two centuries

while extreme theological progressives

subordinate Christianity to worldly philosophies.

The former flounder like fish-out-of-water in contemporary culture.

The latter flounder like fish-out-of-water in the church

and, despite their protests, are not Christian –

you have to draw the orthodox line somewhere.

 

The years when the religious right ordains

fundamentalist presidents always result in religious disaster –

alienating all young Americans

who hold completely different values

about women/homosexuality/poverty/climate change.

 

According to the great Jewish theologian Abraham Heschel

the problem for both extreme right and left is: no awe.

After all, radical amazement lies in all reality:

not only in amazing things I can see – like the Milky Way –

that filmy white night banner overhead – but also in the fact that:

– I can see

– I can reflect on my ability to see

– I have a self that can reflect on things

– that this self is part and parcel of all that was/is/will be.

 

All these were great revelations to Heschel

and revelations always light up our footsteps on the path to God.

IDEAS, RELIGIOUS ATHEISTS AND SUFFERING

For Paul Tillich every aspect of culture –

a new law/painting/political movement

is charged with religious meaning

because it is part of the dynamic energy of God.

 

Every culture subsists in ideas –

Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris began as an idea

and Meister Eckhart knew what every true intellectual knows:

the importance of ideas for peoples’

freedom/courage/integrity

so, when he was shown Notre Dame he said

“I would trade it all for John Chrysostom’s manuscripts.”

 

However, there are narrow and broad ideas –

ideas can be limiting or fulfilling.

As Kierkegaard wrote: “the cultured despisers of religion”

“The New Atheists” such as Richard Dawkins, rightfully attack

immature fundamentalist claims of biblical literalism

but mature believers promote the idea

that knowledge born of faith, like poetry, music, theatre or any art

enables us to see reality more deeply than science can.

 

The Church may reject atheism, but does not reject atheists –

it takes them and their profound questions very seriously

and just like religion, atheism can be narrow or broad

limiting or fulfilling – Buddhism is essentially atheistic

or at least indifferent to the “God question.”

According to Theravada Buddhists, Buddha was an atheist

but manifested the highest humanity and helped multitudes –

his only concern was not God but eliminating suffering.

Anyone who eliminates suffering is a Buddhist.

Therefore, Jesus was a Buddhist. But Buddha was just human,

and when Jesus opened his heart at baptism in the Jordan River

the Holy Spirit descended on him like an eagle

and he manifested as not just human

but the Son of God called to redeem all suffering

through carrying his cross out of love for all humans.

Humans are God’s constant Cross.

 

Those who are truly guided see this

and when tried/visited with affliction

they say “Surely to God we belong and to God we return”

and in temptation/trials/suffering they take comfort

in being “hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3).