Tuesday, October 9, 2012
not like before
One in five American adults now have no religious affiliation, according to the report released Tuesday from the Pew Forum. This combined with news of religious fundamentalism gaining more and more momentum around the world, from the Republican Christian fundamentalist in the United States to the Muslim brotherhood, to Hindu fundamentalist to radical Jewish settlers driving Palestinians from their land, is a sign of a major religious transformation. If there was no reaction there would be action that was of any effect. The age of Constantinian Christianity, where church and state led the charge, ended in the last century with the end of the nation states and the rise of science and technology as our primary hopes for health, and knowledge. A hundred years ago it would have been unthinkable to imagine the nation state and influence of Israel; or the global effect of Buddhism – that there would be Buddhist Christians and Jews; that the majority of Muslims would be non Arab; or the Hindu faith as one around the world and not just in India; or Europe as being barely, if at all, a Christian Continent. We are in changing times, not like a Reformation, but more like the birthing time of Christianity, or Buddhism. What we are experiencing is nothing short of complete rewiring of our corporate souls. It is a time to beware of charlatans and charismatic demigods. It is a very rare time in human history when we have actually faced and understood ourselves as possibly becoming extinct because of the changes in our planet. I have been following politics and the state of Michigan has been going through a major political transformation and upheaval. Liberals and conservatives are fighting each other for control, when it is not about either of their agendas. The state was a logging and farming state that suddenly before the second World War became a major industrial center for the auto industry. Now that industry has left and the state is being fundamentally redefined, it cannot go back to the industrial time, nor the logging and farming as it once was, nor the frontier land before that. It will be different from what we know and whoever is able to help the people of that state to see a positive and possible future will be the key for them. Many will try with good ideas and dreams of riches. Likewise, in religion, we cannot go backward as we move ahead, we cannot become a nation of Christian imperialism, nor a missionary venture to uncharted territories. We are moving into a different way of knowing ourselves. Before I got married, a friend advised me; he said that whatever I thought it would be, it will not be that. This does not mean that God’s love, mercy, nor forgiveness is any less than before. It might mean that God’s sense of humor is expanding some. But the structure, the institutions, the previous experience we may have known will not be the same. Retooling ourselves with new technology can be effective, but only if it is first initiated by a new experience of grace and faith. We need to receive again the vision, the connection and the oneness with the unrelenting passion and forgiveness of Christ. The Christian faith began by redefining the understanding of Judaism in a much more broad, inclusive and renewed faithfulness to God. Such precedence is challenging, unnerving and exciting.