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Brian Holley

Evolutionary Christianity

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A few notes on Gretta Vospers interviewBeyond God: becoming what we believe in. She feels that to be Christian is to do whatever it takes to bind us to a life lived in a radically ethical way -- defining the core value as love, living with respect, justice and compassion. She affirms all reality as holy, having an I- thou relationship with the earth itself.

 

After a crisis of disagreement on the authority of the bible, she had her Toronto church congregation write up a charter saying what values they would actually live out, commit to-- dedicating themselves to help each other, regardless of what they did or did not believe. Prayers were addressed to each other rather than God as supernatural intervening Deity. Vosper has written a book, With or Without God, and a collection of prayers, and hymns, trying to keep the form but change the language.

 

One issue that both she and Michael Dowd emphasized -- the cultural attitude toward death as failure, keeping the very old or terminally ill alive through technology at enormous cost to society. According to him, death is no less sacred than life.

 

[im not a churchgoer or former fundamentalist, but admire her pioneering courage as a minister]

Edited by rivanna

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These notes aren’t meant as a full recap of either interview – just thought it might help others decide if they want to listen to them -

 

Bruce Sanguin’s audio

 

After he left literalism and was educated in PC, he felt something was missing, there was no core truth any more, “my faith had no juice.” Then, while at a retreat, he had an epiphany of being at one with the universe – “empirical mysticism.” He was profoundly affected by Brian Swimme’s Universe is a Green Dragon and saw his new vocation as helping us see ourselves as expressions of the universe. He asks “what is the future that needs me to emerge?” [that wording seemed misleading to me]

 

Also influenced by Le Pichon’s Fragility and the Evolution of our Humanity: the purpose of suffering--Jesus on the cross as the epitome—is to evoke an empathic response so we can embody the “heart of the cosmos” -- compassion and interrelatedness. And he mentioned Jeremy Rifkin’s The Empathic Civilization – our trajectory is to learn “to care for all that is.” Perhaps humans are not the crowning achievement of creation but only a promise of a future species.

 

God lures us toward greater beauty, goodness and truth. There is no predetermined future - it emerges from our “collective capacity for choice;” as we awaken to our “radical responsibility as choosers.” We need “deep time eyes and a global heart.” We have been a “prodigal species” who became dissociated from the earth and now are awakening to return home and repair the planet.

 

Sanguin does “cosmological midrash” in sermons - to demonstrate this necessary shift in our identity. His books address the need for new language of prayer, hymn and liturgy – to reflect this new view. [the vision is so large-scale and impersonal--a persuasive philosophical current, but does it provide comfort, guidance, courage, inspiration? Mostly I admire his focus on taking responsibility]

Edited by rivanna

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Has anyone seen transcripts of the audios? I only listened to a few but still think EC is a refreshing direction. Heres a recent column by Richard Rohr, from the Huffington Post (I condensed it a little)

 

Life on the Edge: understanding the prophetic position

 

When you take your position on the prophetic edge of things with respect and honor, you are free from its central seductions, but also free to hear its core message in very new and creative ways. When you are at the center of something, you get tied down by trivia, loyalty tests and job security. To live on the edge of the inside is different than being an insider, a "company man" or a dues paying member. Yes, you have learned the rules and you understand and honor the system as far as it goes, but you do not need to protect it, defend it or promote it. A doorkeeper must love both the inside and the outside of his or her group, and know how to move between these two loves.

 

In John's Gospel, Jesus calls himself "the gate" where people "will go freely in and out, and be sure of finding pasture." He sees himself more as a place of entrance and exit than a place of settlement. Jesus clearly was much more concerned with journey, integrity and "ortho-praxy" (correct practice) more than mere correct ideas or group. He was not teaching or maintaining any purity system, he was into a process of transformation more than a belonging system.

 

The unique and rare position of a Biblical prophet is not ensconced safely inside, but not so far outside as to lose compassion or understanding. He or she must hold these perspectives in a loving and necessary creative tension. It is a unique kind of seeing and living, which will largely leave the prophet with "nowhere to lay his head."

 

Today it is all about being a consummate insider, which now is called "orthodoxy." People inside of belonging systems are very threatened by those who are not within that group-- anyone in places they cannot control. You can only truly unlock systems from within, but then you are invariably locked out. When you live on the edge of the inside, you will almost wish you were outside --then you are merely an enemy, a pagan, and can largely be ignored or written off. But if you are both inside and outside, you are the ultimate threat, the ultimate reformer and the ultimate invitation.

Edited by rivanna

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Has anyone seen transcripts of the audio’s? I only listened to a few but still think EC is a refreshing direction. Here’s a recent column by Richard Rohr, from the Huffington Post (I condensed it a little)

 

Just catching up after a busy week. Thanks for the RR quotation, Rivanna. I love the idea of the gate. There's a lot about 'emerging' on the Dowd recordings. As for the transcripts, Connie says they're completed and will soon be available. Must try to catch up with the continuing conversations on the blog. How ever did I find time to go to work?

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I have transcripts of Spong's, Ilia Delio's and John Haught's (I edited 2 of them asked for the third.) I don't feel that they are mine to publish, but I will post a few salient quotes.

 

Take Care

 

Dutch

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Thank you for summarizing articles. I find that a great help.

 

The summaries seem to give a new concept of life that helps one form a new humanity, both on the individual and community level. They help me take on something and visualize something more than the animal because it offers a faith that is both spiritually and socially concerned with the material well being of all of humanity. I feel this is when man transcends biological evolution and starts spiritual evolution, a new field where people can realize new possibilities. Living beings or humans conscious of the whole evolutionary process gradually learn of their true identity, duty and destiny. Practical biological progress comes to an end here and evolution changes from a mechanical process to a conscious strategy. Biological evolution transcended itself when the human brain, organization and behavior improved over the animals. The differentiating marks are the many modes of functions that humans have over animals and a higher organization of awareness, which enables men and women, humans to become capable of conceptual thought and language.

 

In the unitary theory presented evolution is not treated merely as a record of separate sequences or events just because human evolution is the latest phase of an ascent towards pure consciousness. To view evolution as materialistic and spiritualistic at the same time, one has to appeal to the sensible union exhibited rather than just experimental verification as a test of validity. I like this discussion because it is leading us to new way of looking at old facts.

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Biological evolution transcended itself when the human brain, organization and behavior improved over the animals.

 

Yes, I agree. The series has helped me get a totally new perspective on the unified state. It's as if we're riding the leading edge of a great evolutionary wave which is rolling forward, as it always has, constantly changing. Shiva's eternal dance becomes a practical reality.

 

It's about realising that I am just as much caught up in the physical as I am in the spiritual. The two are one. At a meeting of kindred souls recently someone spoke of not forgetting our bodies while in meditation. In a book my Jeremy Rifkin (The Empathetic Civilisation) I read about embodied - as opposed to modernist disembodied faith and reason. This seems to relate to Tolle's Power of Now.

 

Should I, in that case, be understanding the physical experience of the body as being an experience of the immanence of the spirit? The Upanishadic "Not in seeing but that by which I see," etc. seems to infer that the experience of seeing is the effect of that by which I see and therefore links me directly to the primal cause. Is this what it means to 'be in him?'

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Should I, in that case, be understanding the physical experience of the body as being an experience of the immanence of the spirit?

 

I think this is true. An incarnational experience of immanence. An end to the body-spirit dualism.

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...just a reaction to the "...if Darwin prayed..."

Actually, yes, he did. It is a myth perpetrated by anti-evoluationists and creationism that Charles Darwin was an atheist...he was in fact quite religious, and accounts of his personal experiences rveal he agonized long and hard over the aparant conflicts with religious ideas as he had been taught and believed with what he realized was emerging from his research and observations of the natural world. Charles Darwin was perhaps an early PC before most the world had realized a place for such a concept...he ultimately could not allow the prejudices of his religious traditions to over ride and negate what his intellect was processing from the material evidence he was confronted with.

 

Jenell

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Jenell,

 

It is indeed sad that his evolution or progression in Christianity which would most likely be accepted here as such was rejected by so many of his time and still presently today. In my view, whenever organized religion requires faith in a document and its perceived requirements of beliefs to be considered a believer in God, it has limited the evolution of the consciousness of man in that area to stagnation.

 

It is recorded Paul said, " For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. " Darwin saw things and recorded things that were clear to him and in latter years understood God to not be accurately portrayed in the story taught from a book and the organized church system interpretations but rather chose his study of the manifestations of nature which were clearly visible to understand God in a less limited way. While he may not use the word God in the traditional sense because of the limited fundamental teachings have put on it, i would think he would be welcome here on his journey.

 

Joseph

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Thanks for the comments, Jenell and Joseph. I liked the idea of Darwin being an early PC. I guess that's true. Over the years we've had to modify our ideas about the divine as new discoveries have been made (earth's orbitting the sun for instance). The easiest option is to dismiss any idea of the divine, which was my first knee jerk reaction when my fundamentalist faith evaporated. Seeing the way the cosmos evolves and understanding it alongside some of the insights of Jesus, Paul, Buddha, Lao Tzu and the writers of the Upanishads brought a rich new dimension to my understanding. May I try out my latest 'insight'?

 

Whatever it is that we refer to as God is not a creator in terms of an engineer, an artists, a composer, a writer or an inventor. These are all human expressions of creativity. God does not seem to create by direct intervention but by an enabling. This derives out of God's totally non-violent character (Matthew 5). In evolution what seems to be happening is that when something can be enabled it is. That may mean waiting a few million years for the right conditions to arise, so that there is a randmness in it. Nevertheless, there is purpose too which becomes active when the right circumstances are in place. I'm thinking here of Cairn's discovery that bacteria put under stress produce an enzyme which randomly generates genes until the right one is produced to deal with the cause of the stress. Then it replaces the original gene with the new one so it can survive. This demonstrates an inbuilt purposefulness and negates the mechanistic evolutionary idea of accidental mutation. With the bacteria, Cairns discovered that the random mutations stop as soon as a suitable gene is produced.

 

The principle seems to be 'what can be will be'. All that can be is right. This means that everything is enabled by whatever we refer to as God - good and bad. If I strike someone on the head with a club and kill them, that's bad for the person, no doubt bad for me, but it is the right thing to happen in those circumstances. Thus the enabling is, in a sense, actually a big 'Yes' to everything, even though my evaluation of events will be either that they are good, bad or indifferent. I can now look at everything from a tree to a bus, from a person to an ant, and wonder that the incredible enabling that, not only brought it into being, but keeps it going until entropy catches up.

 

Does this make any sort of sense? Where are the holes in the argument? I shall appreciate your input.

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Thanks for the comments, Jenell and Joseph. I liked the idea of Darwin being an early PC. I guess that's true. Over the years we've had to modify our ideas about the divine as new discoveries have been made (earth's orbitting the sun for instance). The easiest option is to dismiss any idea of the divine, which was my first knee jerk reaction when my fundamentalist faith evaporated. Seeing the way the cosmos evolves and understanding it alongside some of the insights of Jesus, Paul, Buddha, Lao Tzu and the writers of the Upanishads brought a rich new dimension to my understanding. May I try out my latest 'insight'?

 

Whatever it is that we refer to as God is not a creator in terms of an engineer, an artists, a composer, a writer or an inventor. These are all human expressions of creativity. God does not seem to create by direct intervention but by an enabling. This derives out of God's totally non-violent character (Matthew 5). In evolution what seems to be happening is that when something can be enabled it is. That may mean waiting a few million years for the right conditions to arise, so that there is a randmness in it. Nevertheless, there is purpose too which becomes active when the right circumstances are in place. I'm thinking here of Cairn's discovery that bacteria put under stress produce an enzyme which randomly generates genes until the right one is produced to deal with the cause of the stress. Then it replaces the original gene with the new one so it can survive. This demonstrates an inbuilt purposefulness and negates the mechanistic evolutionary idea of accidental mutation. With the bacteria, Cairns discovered that the random mutations stop as soon as a suitable gene is produced.

 

The principle seems to be 'what can be will be'. All that can be is right. This means that everything is enabled by whatever we refer to as God - good and bad. If I strike someone on the head with a club and kill them, that's bad for the person, no doubt bad for me, but it is the right thing to happen in those circumstances. Thus the enabling is, in a sense, actually a big 'Yes' to everything, even though my evaluation of events will be either that they are good, bad or indifferent. I can now look at everything from a tree to a bus, from a person to an ant, and wonder that the incredible enabling that, not only brought it into being, but keeps it going until entropy catches up.

 

Does this make any sort of sense? Where are the holes in the argument? I shall appreciate your input.

 

Interesting idea. Certainly inovation and real progress does come in most cases through a need to adapt to a new challenge, as a response to pressure to survive by adapting to new challenges to survival. However, while I can agree with your illustration using the bacteria, I have to disagree with that of knocking someone in the head and killing them. In the case of the bacteria, yes, I can see a potenial of enabling, as in that case it does meet the needs of overcoming a challenge, and God or nature or whatever has provided the bacteria the means to do so. There is an obvious example of the theory of evolution at work in it.

However, one person violently killing another as you describe that act, doesn't. At least, not in the scenario you describe. How humans killing one another in conflicts over limted resources and challenges to survival might (or might now) fit into this idea, is another thing altogether.

 

In some ways, this idea as you present it seems to me a restating of the common adage, "where there's a will, there's a way." I don't agree with that adage. While its a handy proverb when there has beensuccess in meeting some challenge, it fails in real life too often to be accepted as a truism. One often hears this proverb casually tossed about whenever there is a disaster, applied of course to the surivors. One has only to pause a moment and think, to see the absurdity of it...so we are to believe the presence of a will to survive, or not, is the critical point of difference between those that survived and those that did not? Ditto for those that were spared by their prayers to God for help in those frantic moments of a disaster. A most recent example of that was seen in so many of the comments of survivors of the terrible rashes of deadly tornados, spoke of having survived in terms of been saved by their prayers being answered. So, what? You don't think among those that died, there were ones that were praying right up to the instant of their death??

 

Jenell

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However, one person violently killing another as you describe that act, doesn't. At least, not in the scenario you describe. How humans killing one another in conflicts over limted resources and challenges to survival might (or might now) fit into this idea, is another thing altogether.

 

Many thanks for this thoughtful reply, Jenell. I really didn't do a good job of describing my thinking here. Let me see if I can do better. It seems to me that the 'enabling' I speak of is at work in all activities in the cosmos. According to the writers of the Upanishads, there is nothing that is not enabled by Brahman and the same thought arises in all the Levantine faiths. The problem that comes out of this is that God must enable evil as well as good, but then how is that consistent with his righteousness and love? The way I'm beginning to see it is that it is essential to understand that whatever it is we refer to as God is totally and utterly non-violent. Matthew 5 is the key - "Do not resist the evil man.". There's also a passage in the Tao Teh Ching, refering to the Tao, which Stephen Mitchell translates "You can do whatever you like with it." In the whole history of evolution, things have worked now and then, but largely they haven't worked, which is why we've taken so many millions of years to evolve thus far. Human failure in maintaining relationships and resorting to violence is just one among many set backs that 'God' encounters every day. We judge these issues as good or bad because we only see them in relation to ourselves. Maybe God judges them as 'right' because if you do something evil to someone it will be bad for them and that is the correct outcome. Our role though, as we increase in conscious awareness, is to participate in the evolution of the cosmos and that will mean establishing non-violence as the leading principle in our lives - even though it may result in others being violent towards us (Ghandi, Luther King, Madela, Jesus et al). At the end of the Beatitudes Jesus says, 'Be perfect as your father in heaven is perfect'. He didn't say, become perfect - which is interesting. It seems to me that the Enabler enables irrespective of whether the recipient of the enabling uses it for good or evil (the sun rises and the just and the unjust). This is what I meant about a the enabling being a massive 'YES'. Everything is right. Every action results in the outcome that should result from that action. We place a value on it according to how it affects us. Meanwhile 'God' bleeds all the way to the cross - daily. In Matthew 25 God's naked, hungry and in prison. The enabling suffers in those who suffer and rejoices in those who rejoice. This gives me grounds to surrender myself totally to that enabling, for when I do it consciously, I am particpating in the suffering and joy of creation.

 

I don't know it this makes it clearer, but I value the observations of friends on this forum.

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I think talking describing God's actions or intentions always limits God. In a conversation of many ideas I will only approach one. What if the word "lure" or allurement was used instead of enable. In the revealing of God that is the evolution of the universe God lures us forward towards our highest values: love and compassion. By our being open to the possibilities of love in the next moment we respond to the lure of God's love. I am not into good/evil dualisms. I like that the Tao teaches that we should not let the "bad" grasp us and hold us down and we should not grasp the good which would keep us from experiencing the next moment. Detached but not unconcerned.

 

Dutch

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That nocturnal solitude characterizes a mood of the tehom: “darkness was upon the face of the deep.” And intertextually it suggests as well a defiance of social expectations, a force of rebellion against any established order, and yet in this very clamor, in this darkness, a profoundly relational space. A space precisely characterized by ‘depths of peace’ -- the ultimately pacific, indicating the bliss of what Freud could not handle, the oceanic feeling he thought needed only to be outgrown; indicating the final experience of peace won only through tragedy, ... also this pacific shoreline suggests quite literally the edge of chaos, indicative in the contrast of clamor and peace of the complex order of turbulent processes expressed in oceanic currents and tides (Keller, 1999).

 

The highest excellence is like that of water. The excellence of water appears in its benefiting all things, and in its occupying, without striving, the low place which all men dislike. Hence it is near to the Tao ... Under these two aspects [heaven and earth], it is really the same; but as development takes place, it receives the different names. Together we call them the Mystery. Where the Mystery is the deepest is the gate of all that is subtle and wonderful (from the Tao Ching, The Book of Changes).

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Must admit, I’m puzzled by Brian’s examples, or rather they point to what I don’t understand about EC (one of the things!) For me, “God’s totally non-violent character” can’t be consistent with “a big Yes to everything” that happens. If EC affirms that the entire universe, all of history since the beginning of time, is the incarnation of God’s love, doesn’t the word love lose its meaning? isn’t it similar to people who insist that everything in the bible is an example of God’s will?

 

Bruce Sanguin suggests we live deliberately as co-creators, with “deep time eyes and a global heart” and ask ourselves “what is the future that needs me to emerge?” (that phrase is still enigmatic to me) What does it mean to say “the universe is inside us as well as outside us”? How would acting on this new cosmic perspective differ from acting as a progressive Christian?

 

One expression by Loyal Rue that I think I do get, echoes what Jesus taught – “The most profound insight in the history of humankind is that we should seek to live in accord with reality.” (reality as total interrelatedness, compassionate love as the enduring truth)

 

btw – Janell, it’s nice to have you posting on the board, you have a lot to offer.

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Thank you, Rivanna, the experience is mutual.

 

As to the seeming contradictions between God as non-violent, God as loving, so why does God seem to enable, or at least allow, evil?

 

When Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, that fruit was 'judgement'. And in that first act of human exercise of judgement, (I believe this to be the 'original sin') was to judge GOD and His creation that, had He not declared was good?

 

When self-consciousness emerged in humanity, the ability to reflect back upon oneself as object and act upon/toward oneself brought awareness of their naked state...I think metaphorically that naked state was psychological nakedness, to see one's self just as God created, with nothing of our own or to our own credit to distinguish as from any other creature. It was that emerging awareness itself that set humans apart from lower animals, but with it came realization it was nothing we had done, earnedm that made us superior.

 

On deciding we can judge good from evil emerges from an egocentric attitude from which the good or evil of all other than ourself is judged according to our perception of how it affects us, it pleases us or not, it seems favorable and advantagous to us or not, even it is like us (good, since we ARE the standard for ideal) or not like us, different from us (bad, since we are the standard for ideal). Call this the egocentric narcisistic personality disorder of the individual as the micro-level of something the same on the macro-level of our entire human race.

 

There is an OT scriptual passage, I searched for it but didn't find it for this use here, in which God is portrayed as stating there is no other, that God brings the good and God brings the other, "beside me there is no other.' It reads something to the effect that there is none God should have to redeem His people from, for no other has them, they have sold their own selves into captivity.

 

Kinda blows the dualistic cosmic view of a great war between God and some other, ie Satan (sounding suspiciously like Zoroastrianism, orginating in Babylon) doesn't it?

 

Perhaps the reconciliation of these seeming inconsistencies between God's supposed loving nature and evil in the world is to be found in our own human constructs of good and evil. If our judgement of good and evil is utterly egocentric, judged according to ourselves as the standard, then it may be that we don't really even know what is and is not evil at all.

 

Now, in consideration the evolution of human consciousness, and the collective human conscience, think about how events we'd clearly see as evil actually bore fruit that is good. Example, mass genocide of conquered peoples and undesirable immigant populations are woven into world history, and little was made of it as something unnacceptable. It was just how it was. It was practical, pragmatic. Until such events in the past century caught the world's attention and caused a world-wide refocusing of the collective conscience in a way that brought a great 'opening of the eyes' of the world, to the horror, the atrocities, of such mass culturally, politically, and socially accepted genocides. (Our own early American predessors did it to native americans). Perhaps many other factors came together to help bring this massive shift of the world conscience about as it did, from the moral and ethical battles over allowing some people to own, as if animals, other humans, and the radical emerging concept of a new nation, a new culture, based less on common geneology and ethnic heritage and more on the rights of all men created equal and the impulse toward freedoms new to the world.

 

As Jesus observed, either you hate the tree but love the fruit or you love the tree and hate the fruit. When we start looking at the fruit of even some of the most evil events, we often find the outcome, the result, has been desirable fruit.

 

Jenell

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Continuing from my immediately previous post, if we consider ourselves as co-creators with God in a still evolving creation, then at some level outside our human consciousness, we are complicit with God in bringing about such events that contribute to the continued evolution of not only the material creation, but the collective consciousness of not only our human race, but of all creation. What may seem evil to one of us personally, or as a society or even entire human race, may appear differently within the context of such an evolutionary scale. Such a concept places all of us, and every other element of the material created world (NY all creation in travail in bringing forth the birth of the new creation, emergent evolutionary process)is complicit in the process as well.

 

Just as Jesus the Christ was represented as willingly accepting His fate, for it was His role in the process, to be nailed upon the cross, to suffer, the old to die so as to allow the new to emerge, so is all in creation upon the cross of evolution. In His last moments, as He cried out to God indicating He felt God had forsaken Him, He experienced separation from His conscious connection, communication with, God. This may be analagous to how it is that we must meet our part laid out upon the cross to live a mortal human life with a sense of separation from God, of being alone.

 

Interesting possiblities, anyway.

 

Jenell

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How would acting on this new cosmic perspective differ from acting as a progressive Christian?

Rivanna, I am not sure it does. What it gives me are new metaphors and new language to relish and celebrate the universe and evolution. Ilia Delio's image of Evolution as a "cosmic cruciform. God's first word of love, Christ, through and in whom every quark and atom and whale is creation coming into existence. Everything is a theophany. I love that she moves from a high concept of Christ to Jesus as homemaker, a focus on the person as homemaker, giver of hospitality and active carer for the world around. A focus on evolution, that we have the opportunity to affect the future of the universe and of the planet should give impetus to a concern for the planet.

 

I arrived at Evolutionary Christianity through Jakob Boehme who also sought to describe creation who's source is one God, with no separate source for evil. I am a monotheist; everything I experience, every thing we see comes from one continous creating: God's creating an Other (creation) so that God might know God's self through relationship. The Pope's former astronomer, Father Coyne says that in a fertile universe by chance it was inevitable that something like us would emerge. God was hoping that's how it would turn out. There is no other source for what we experience, no separate source of evil. We experience harm and we seek to fix the problem. Traditionally evil is assigned to harm intended by humans. I lean to not making that distinction between natural and moral evil. We seek to solve both problems the same way: to repair the damage, to understand the cause and to prevent future harm. With human caused harm, we examine intention and currently we are, more and more, taking into account, the hardwiring of the person. How is it that they harmed another? Is part of their brain not working the same as others. Solving the problem of harm becomes more and more complex. Recent studies suggest that the decline in crime in the last half of the 20th century correlates with less use of leaded paints and leaded gas which affect impulse control and IQ - a 7pt deficit. As you point out, Jenell, it is not easy to chose what is good or evil. Maybe we shouldn't worry about it.

 

Paul says that we should grateful in all things: pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. A proof text, but not inconsistent with Jesus suggestions that we should stop worrying. If we see harm happening we can look for the next right action.

 

Several theologians have observed that there seems to be an evolution toward empathy. which I think is inline with the change you noted Jenell.

we are complicit with God in bringing about such events that contribute to the continued evolution of not only the material creation, but the collective consciousness of not only our human race, but of all creation.

In a recent SS class students wanted to talk about good and evil. One person said they never worried about the source of the evil, whether God caused it, allowed it, whether God would cause or not cause evil so good could from it; he said he only wondered what his/our response should be when we see it.

 

Just some thoughts

 

Take Care

 

Dutch

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Dutch:

In a recent SS class students wanted to talk about good and evil. One person said they never worried about the source of the evil, whether God caused it, allowed it, whether God would cause or not cause evil so good could from it; he said he only wondered what his/our response should be when we see it.

 

Excellent! I've gotta remember that one! Writing it in my endless notebook of nuggets to keep right now!

 

Jenell

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I think talking describing God's actions or intentions always limits God. In a conversation of many ideas I will only approach one. What if the word "lure" or allurement was used instead of enable. In the revealing of God that is the evolution of the universe God lures us forward towards our highest values: love and compassion. By our being open to the possibilities of love in the next moment we respond to the lure of God's love. I am not into good/evil dualisms. I like that the Tao teaches that we should not let the "bad" grasp us and hold us down and we should not grasp the good which would keep us from experiencing the next moment. Detached but not unconcerned.

 

Dutch

I agree. Any descriptive phrase we use to try to describe anything about what we refer to as God is going to be a limitation. I guess what I'm trying to describe is our experience. I like the term allurement which I remember was used by Brian Swimme a lot. Maybe that describes our relationship too, rather than the actions of the divine. However, your use of lure, seems appropriate to the action of the enabling I speak of. I'll think more on that. thank you.

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Still working on this in my own mind, but ...

 

The primordeal created fact is the unconditioned conceptual valuation of the entire multiplicity of created eternal objects. This is the 'primordial nature' of God. By reason of this complete valuation, the objectification of God in each actual entity results in a graduation of the relevance of eternal objects to the concresnat phases [process] of that derivative occassion.
(emphasis in bold added)

 

A. N. Whitehead, Process and Reality

 

And ...

 

“The psychic depths are nature, and nature is creative life. Whatever values in the visible world are destroyed by modern relativism, the psyche will produce their equivalents.”
(emphasis in bold added)

 

C.G.Jung, Modern Man in Search Of a Soul

 

My own translation of the above would go something like this.

 

The primordial nature of G-d provides the "ground of all being" in two senses (not one). First, it is the fact that the 'physical' world "is what it is, not something else". Second, the "ground" of the psyche (the 'mental') is also nature. We could say that "the ground of all being" is also the "ground of all (conceptual) thinking". Or, as Kant put it "intuitions without concepts are blind".

 

To be clear, what Whitehead calls "the primordial nature of God" is very near to what Jung calls "the collective unconscious" or, as Whitehead claims, "the primodial nature of God" is unconscious. There is also to consider consciousness both in nature and G-d. This is where Whitehead introduces the notion of "the consequent nature of God" and "the lure for feeling". The question that both Jung and Whitehead faced is: How do we select, value, and interpret relevant 'eternal objects' (facts and values) from such a very large inventory?

 

Frankly, the answer is disturbing to some Chrisians, and much of Western philosophy. Jung and Whitehead are in agreement on this point ... it is through a "matrix" of "formal objects" of our own emotions that we merge fact and value or, as Jung would put it, this is the "numinosity" of the mythic image of creation "in the beginning". We need only to give up our fear of the depths.

 

(oh dear, I feel a storm coming)

 

Myron

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The first neccessity for engaging the kinds of things we are talking aboout in many of these discussions,and which seems a basic condition of what is being called her PC perspective or paradigm, is having overcome literal, concretistic, reductionist thinking patterns, and the restraints and limitations of any human language in expressing these central common ideas and concepts.

 

I'm amazed, to be honest, at how many here are so well equipped to engage in these conversations that casually include and mix and switch between different paradigms, "languages", systems, in discussing what are trully the same underlying concepts. We are tossing into same conversation the perspectives and language of several different branches of psychology, mysticism, various brands of religion and even science to communicate central common ideas, mixing them into a sort of salad, and still understanding each other.

 

To those still caught in concretistic, reductionistic, literal thinking,we can only sound like we are confused, jumping about here and there collecting bits and pieces of various systems as we like, like a smorgasborg of New Age folly. They are still attached to the beleif that one must 'settle' on some system of organized dogma of some sort to maintian coherence. They are still attached to the symbols (taking them literally), not yet having grasped that what is precious is what they contain, as content of meaning, not the vessels (symbols, images) themselves, and that there are many different vessels (pardigms, systems) in which the precious content is to be found. Again, the best metaphor I have, using words that can be spoken to express those that are (Paul) unlawful to speak, for which there is no common human language.

 

The critucal difference between what we are doing here and what is commonly seen in some New Age mish-mash of elements drawn here and there from various different systems and paradigms that they then try to patch together into some custom blended system of their own that is most palatable to them, to their literal oriented minds, is that of point of focus...upon collecting an attractive variety of vessels, symbols, systems, as compared to seeking to find the common precious content that might be found in a variety of such vessels.

 

So why are we driven to do so, instead of settling,then, upon one nice matching set of vessels of a single system, if it is the content that matters?

 

Because each vessel is an imperfect container of the precious content. Each language expresses slightly different nuances of the fuller underlying meaning. Because the language and symbols within each system, each paradigm, is imperfect and incomplete...of that were not so, then we WOULD have a common human language (lawful words) already in which to express these central concepts.

 

In a sense, we may have progressed beyond being forced to go off as seekers ofthe precious content when our own traditional vessels, symbols, have been stripped of their illusions, become broken and empty. so that we have now begun to go about finding different vessels to crack up, break apart, so as to get at the particular precious content they may hold.

 

Jenell

Edited by JenellYB

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Wanting Sumptuous Heavens

By Robert Bly

 

No one grumbles among the oyster clans,

And lobsters play their bone guitars all summer.

Only we, with our opposable thumbs, want

Heaven to be, and God to come, again.

There is no end to our grumbling; we want

Comfortable earth and sumptuous Heaven.

But the heron standing on one leg in the bog

Drinks his dark rum all day, and is content.

 

http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/182474

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