New Media Communications 2.0: A Great Good Place for the Theological Community
My awakening to the core issues of Creation Spirituality
Creation Spirituality became a key theological concept for me as I became interested in the ideas of Matthew Fox. I discovered the book "The Coming of the Cosmic Christ" in a new age section of a book store, and was intrigued with the title, as well as the chapter headings and the intro.
It appealed to me in large part because I have long felt that we have been handed a culturalized faith; and it is inevitable that some of this take place. But at what point do we say "no more" to subtle shifts toward a acquiescence to culture so that we assimilate values and participate in trends which are more in tune with what sells, what is popular, and what is "profitable"? Fox repeats a theme in many of his books: that something has been lost in the "Westernization" of the most ancient of spiritual legacies.
I also learned a great deal prior to Fox's literature that prepared me to react with "Yes" to what he had to say. I majored in Sociology in college at a state school and began to see the varieties of Interpretation of the Bible and how different "cultural interpretations" were adopted to align one's expressed faith with a give set of agreed mores within a particular socio/political setting.
I also arrived at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary at the height of the Biblical Controversies of the early 1980's, just as the right wing of the Southern Baptist Convention began to push with an almost brutal force upon certain teachers and leaders who did not express the same sentiments as they. The theme seemed to be that there were certain principles of Biblical Interpretation that must be held in order to be a true interpreter of the Bible. The battles became national news. Bill Moyers did a piece on Southern Baptists in a series called "God and Politics", and there were headlines like "Unholy Wars". That described it quite well. It was here that I learned a great deal, first hand, about how personal, socio-political interests could serve as a filter through which we develop, assimilate, and choose the theological truths which we will call our own.
I found in Fox's writings some examples of what I had long believed. It seemed unlikely to me that our own Westernized flavor of Christianity would be something which most sincere non-Westerners would recognize or respond to as a viable spiritual alternative. Think about it, why should a person who had been raised in a culture different from our own, and in a religious heritage other than Judeo-Christian, be expected to embrace an entirely new definition of their own spiritual experience? Why would they experience the ultimate truths of their lives in terms of an evangelical Christian theology when they have learned all of their lives that these truths come to them through a source other than that of a person named Jesus?
Another way of explaining what I mean:: "Why should a person, raised on Hindu values, and exposed to rather shallow examples of Christianity (as we are apt to do with traditions differing from our own), or perhaps truly bad examples of Christianity, be expected to identify their own more profound experiences of the mystery of life with anything other than images from their own best traditions and stories? I'm afraid many do not consider the strength and even the value of a lifetime of family's growing up in a tradition, and insist that they say the words of allegiance to Christ.
My own slant on this is that there is a lot more to the incarnation of God than the historical Jesus. I feel that the person of Jesus IS indeed much more multi-cultural, and INVOLVED in the discovery of truth within every person within their particular journey to discover the greatest goods in life. I believe Jesus the Christ is a "cosmic" existence that is manifest in human life and community in a variety of traditions, and that we should not expect the representatives of these diverse groups to embrace a distinctly "Christian" theology, at least in name.
What's in a name anyway? Not much in our culture. Names are really so much more than what word we use for them. The "name of Christ" is a lifestyle and a connectedness, rather than a theological system. I had also felt for a long time that "believing in God and Jesus" had a lot more to do with a love and a concern for all of life than with ascribing to a set of beliefs. Clarence Jordan had spoken and written about that. He had said that one makes a "public profession of faith" when one stands up against a lynch mob and protects life, not when the organ is playing softly and the the pastor asks "Do you take Jesus as Lord?".
And I often see better attempts at this by the "non-professing" than by many church members. When I saw Ghandi, I began to think about how God is revealed to people of different cultures. I feel that Christ is not neccesarily the Jesus of Western Biblical interpretation, but more like the "Cosmic Christ" who seemed to be quite contrary to what was expected by the religious elite of his day.
April 6, 1995
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