WORLD NEEDS ADULT FAITH

  1. Fundamentalism, in terms of people having a simplistic faith, has become a problem for all of us. As a person’s world view progressively narrows, they become more and more judgmental, intolerant, and even dangerous. In some cases people are willing to kill themselves and others for their religious cause.

    As our world becomes increasingly complex, people seek simple answers in order to cope, and so fundamentalism is spreading everywhere. The solution is for people to develop an adult faith.

    By integrating the thinking of James Hayes, a former Catholic archbishop, Friedrich Von Hugel, a nineteenth century theologian, and Gordon Allport, a Harvard psychologist, we can outline ten characteristics of an adult faith which could apply to Christians, Jews, Muslims, Bahais, or any other faith-based tradition.

    First of all, a mature faith is open. It honours the basic freedom and autonomy of other adults, knows that our world is complex and ambiguous, and therefore respectfully listens to others and tries to understand their viewpoint. Then it speaks its own truth freely. This “dialogical” rather than argumentative approach represents a middle path between saying nothing and being authoritarian, that is, trying to impose our faith on others. 

    Secondly, an adult faith is searching. The adult believer distinguishes between constructive questioning (the search for truth) and destructive questioning ( the desire to disprove the truth). Constructive questioning is essential to progress in faith and normally produces greater clarity, broader horizons, and deeper ownership of one’s beliefs. The adult believer is wary of anyone who tries to shut down the quest for understanding.

    A mature faith is also informed and comprehensive in its world view. Ideally, adult believers know the scriptures of their tradition well, and supplement this with ancient and modern spiritual classics. Adult believers should also become familiar with at least one science, and scientific methods of investigation, to keep their faith from becoming superstitious and ungrounded.

    An adult faith is humble. It is a pilgrim faith that never believes it has fully arrived. It is open to ongoing learning and conversion, rather than the faith of someone who has all the answers.

    Fifthly, a mature faith is critically evaluative. While it immerses itself in its culture, it critically evaluates the social order in light of the demands of human rights, responsibilities, and justice.

    An adult faith is also decisive. In spite of cultural complexity, the mature faith is not paralyzed. Rather, it is able to make sophisticated judgments and to take appropriate action for the common good.

    Seventh, a mature faith is integrated, that is, it integrates the sacred and the secular, faith and life. It acts the same whether inside or outside the synagogue, church, mosque or temple. It is consistently moral and just.

    Adult believers also have a differentiated faith. That is, they don’t believe that all religious traditions are the same, so that it doesn’t matter which one you belong to. They make critical discernments about the different truth claims between major world religions and also the diverse claims by the various branches within each tradition. At the same time, the adult believer focuses on similarities more than differences and builds bridges between and within traditions.

    Adult faith is also personal. Adult believers struggle to come to their own conclusions rather than just simplistically accepting what is handed to them by religious authorities. They wrestle with whether or not assertions by those in authority make any sense to them based on their own personal life experience.

    Finally, knowing their own limits and the limits of others means that the adult believer’s faith is simultaneously compassionate and communal. They know that they and others cannot do it all alone, they need human support. They know that being a part of, and being accountable to, a supportive religious or spiritual community is essential to maintaining an adult faith.

    What the world needs now is not just love but also adults with an adult faith.

ONLY IN GOD DOES EVERYTHING BELONG

Only in God

does everything belong:

the good and the bad –

all other systems exclude

contaminating elements

for ideological purity.

Both communism and capitalism 

believe in a future paradise/utopia

in which there is no shadow

which makes them ironically open 

to every moral infestation/corruption.

Only by abiding 

in God’s unconditional love

do we find the safety and freedom to be 

who we really are (our True Self)

all that we are (good and bad)

more than we are (saints)

and less than we are (sinners).

People believe 

if they find their True Self

all problems will be solved.

However, this narcissism

ignores social/cultural dimensions

necessary for transformation of civilization. 

Sorry, evangelicals:

converting individuals 

does not convert society

does not create the kingdom/queendom of God

the Beloved Community.

Ego intuits Spirit 

as Higher Self, Soul

Archetype, Enneagramtype

Inner Voice, Witness

Universal Mind, Pure Awareness

Transcendental Consciousness, Gnosticism

but this leaves out 

the We of culture

the It of politics.

Christology must be seen

thru eyes of victims’ oppression

not thru magical conceptions

of victors’ redemption.

When scripture is seen

literally/historically

not spiritually/symbolically

the Perennial Philosophy

mysticism……is lost

which is what the world 

needs most.

We must learn to live with relativity 

of all human ideas

all theological/scientific dogma.

The future is open-ended and inter-connected:

the freedom to flow and connect

are the new survival skills

in this twenty-first of all centuries.

THE TWO TREES IN EDEN

The two trees in Eden 

are metaphors for two minds:

dualistic and unitive.

The Tree of Knowledge 

splits everything into either/or

(God forbids us to eat from this Tree).

The Tree of Life

symbolizes unitive contemplation

and promises access to eternity.

Separation of things by the Church

into sacred (Church)

and secular (world)

meant the Church treated the world

with contemptus mundi.

The Church thought it had everything

to teach the world

and nothing

to learn from it.

Scripture and tradition 

not philosophy or science

are indeed the final norms

for revealing what is truly human.

The philosophy of non-being

in Heidegger, Sartre, Dostoevsky and Berdyaev

viewed religiously

simply speak 

to the transitoriness of all things

and to the power of the demonic

in souls and history.

But atheism 

is not religion’s worst enemy – 

indifference is.

In the New Age

there is passion

because God is only within/immanent.

But to conservative religion 

God is only without/transcendent.

First find the Inner Authority

of your True Self in God

then balance/integrate it 

with the Outer Authority

of Scripture and Tradition.

Balance/integrate God totally within

with God totally without

and voilà 

you have stable yet creative religion.

Totalitarian regimes 

dominate with Outer Authority

 and hate the passion of artists

who break people out of slavery

by waking them up 

to imperial ideology.

Totalitarians rule by power and money

but human reality is constituted

by meaning not matter.

Meaning not money 

is the foundational reality.

It is a spiritual universe.

John of the Cross

put it all together

as a mystic, theologian, and spiritual explorer

who discovered Treasure Island:

that in Christ are buried all treasures

of wisdom and meaning.

Mindfulness of Christ brings

joy, peace, and happiness.

In distress consciously breathe in 

the peace of Christ

and consciously breathe out

the healing of Christ.

Catherine of Siena heard Jesus say

“I want people to meditate

on the greatness of my mercy

before contemplating their shortcomings.

Self-knowledge of sin

must be tempered by and subordinated to

knowledge of God-alive-in-you.”

WAKE UP, WAKE UP TOGETHER

Lonergan: at end of 1600s a great revolution:

constant attacks by Enlightenment 

and Anglicans analyzing

existence 

balancing scripture, tradition, reason 

shifted Catholic method-in-theology

from questions to certainties

theological inquiry to dogmatic theology.

Outer spiritual authority says

“You are special”

Inner spiritual authority says

“Everyone is special”

another revolutionary shift 

from elitism to egalitarianism.

Too much outer authority

creates Authoritarian Institutions

which create religion’s greatest enemy:

indifference: 

loss of divine will-to-be-alive 

loss of heart

loss of passion

atrophying into loveless/hateless

existence.

Upon meeting, Buddhists 

bow and silently acknowledge 

each other as a Buddha-to-be

since all carry within 

seeds of awakening.

In Confucianism, filial piety 

must be practiced from

the Emperor/Empoweror

Son of Heaven

down thru princes, scholars to peasants

or disaster ensues.

Brueggemann: Christian imagination 

numbed, satiated, co-opted, paralyzed by fear

cannot do any serious work.

But depth psychology and existential analysis

separate anxiety, a group phenomenon

from fear, an individual phenomenon.

So, do not fear 

to follow Jesus

because of what others might think.

In fact, others don’t think

of you……………….at all.

Shed fear and become

one of the twin heroes of mythology

two basic sides of human nature:

the mild and acquiescent

the wild and rebellious

the Introvert who powerfully reflects 

the Extrovert who greatly accomplishes

but either way

be humble

not self-deprecating nor self-condemning

and either way

be contemplative

the secret of which is:

life in the Eternal Now

not-Emptiness

full-of-Godness.

Bonaventure: Incarnation is

the Center of Creation:

everything preceding and following 

descent of the Logos

finds its meaning in Christ.

The Universal Christ is 

the Eternal Now and Love Supreme

Love: Alpha and Omega of Life

Alpha: Big Bang to God-consciousness

showing Itself explicitly in Jesus the Christ

Omega: Love drawing the universe

forward thru Christ 

toward 

ever-greater-Unity-in-Love.

The universe’s salvation is

corporate/universal salvation

beyond any individual.

Wake up, wake up together!

ETERNAL LOVE

Our True Self is Love.

Christ’s Sermon

the Magna Carta

of Love’s Reign:

where Love rains 

we are soaked

and the False Self washes away.

Early on 

women preached and prophesied Love

in Church!

And Augustine marinated in

Manichean theosophy

Italian scepticism

Neo-Platonic mysticism

until he discovered Love

and conversion.

But when Patriarchs

settled the Canon

of Scripture

and blew everyone away

including Gospels of

Thomas, Magdalene and Philip

the nonviolent Reign of Love 

in Jesus and Paul

subverted into Apocalypse

in Revelation – 

the rain of blood 

up to horses’ saddles.

Things devolved further

until Meister Eckhart

preached Love

to tormented and bewildered 

Peasants.

Following the Crucified 

brooks no romanticizing Love

always a hard workout

Salvation won non-violently

in fear and trembling.

Now salvation of humans

and salvation of nature

inextricably bind each other

and we know

matter flows

the reign of lava

evolving, self-transcending 

into higher and higher

consciousness

until God reaches down 

or emerges up 

into infused contemplation

called by Ignatius of Loyola

“consolation without previous cause” –

a gift we neither cause nor deserve

of God’s all-embracing

Presence.

In Pure Land Buddhism

monks invoke Buddha

till Enlightenment:

the Realization

Pure Land is in us.

But even internal Pure Lands 

flow impermanently

unlike the Rain of Love.

Eternal God:

not ever-lasting but 

ever-Present

“I Am”

NOW

without time.

As Wittgenstein wrote:

“Eternal life belongs 

to those who live in the 

Present.”

Eternal Life is NOW

life in permanent Love of

Presence.