Friday, August 27, 2010

Post-Christian spirituality

Emerging Christianity, a movement disillusioned with the institutional church, contains diverse strands about which I won’t bother here. I suppose I belong to the movement with my God Is Not 3 Guys in the Sky and my blog, but I didn’t hear about it until after my book was published. And I go way beyond Emerging Christianity as these Excerpts show.

Readers who poke around in my blog (Click on titles in my index) will find themes resembling those of Emerging Christianity—
• freedom from hierarchical control,
• respect, dignity, and equal authority for women,
• valuing people more than institutions.

With Emerging Christians I share respect and affection for our tradition, but I’m not comfortable with their exclusively Christian focus. It’s too narrow, too much a rehashing of the same old same old. I emphasize these break-away ideas:
• focus on Jesus as way-shower rather than idol to be worshiped,
• admit openly that our way of describing the Source we call God is not definitive,
• respect spiritual beliefs utterly different from Christian belief.
My purpose is to expand thinking about religions and spirituality. I endorse post-Christian spirituality, but it wouldn’t have to be "post" if Christians could let go of literal belief in religious doctrine and stop insisting that our God-image, Jesus, is the only legitimate one.

I urge Christians to REALLY think out of the box and bridge with all faiths. All humans, including atheists who deny spiritual reality, have a kind of faith, you know.
I expect the body of Christians will be unable to step out of the box, and so the world—yes, Americans too—will move into post-Christian spirituality. It’s already happening. My posts on consciousness are evidence.

Two very different responses prompt this postscript. One, the comment from Florian, is predictably indignant. The other came in the form of a caller to my home on the day I posted this writing. The person requested a sequel to God Is Not Three Guys in the Sky, a companion book about post-Christian spirituality for those who "get it" and want direction to go on. It was a visit from Providence because I'd been wondering which of my themes would be the focus of my next book. Now I see that post-Christian spirituality unites them.

But I have to correct something I suggested, that Christians could avert the shift to post-Christian spirituality if they changed their beliefs. No, the Christian age is simply over; the time of Christian dominance in answering large life questions has passed in Europe and is passing in North America.

Many loyal and still practicing Christians recognize this and are working out their practice of post-Christian spirituality.

September 13, Agnosticism.
Wikipedia defines agnosticism as the view that the truth about religious or metaphysical ideas is unknowable. In my book and blog I repeatedly and adamantly state that what we call God is unknowable, but I don’t label myself an agnostic because I am certain about basic beliefs, which might form the basis of post-Christian spirituality. I don’t doubt and I’m not agnostic about these:

• the existence of spiritual reality or Spirit. I prefer these terms to “God,” which carries negative religious baggage for some people.
• the existence of Spirit within humans.
• the existence of Spirit within all of the physical universe.
• the primacy of spiritual reality over physical reality.

I’m also certain that
• Moral values are spiritual values, not an accidental product arising from the physical universe.
• religions mediate or serve as thresholds to Spirit.
• no religion controls the exclusive or the preferred way to Spirit.

Many doubters of Christian doctrines probably accept these ideas also, so they cannot call themselves agnostics. Like all people, I’m skeptical of ideas I can’t fit into my framework of reality but I’m more open to strange ideas than most, and I’m pretty good at reconciling ideas that others dismiss because they seem opposed to what’s familiar or they’re strange.
For many years I’ve been open to channeling and reincarnation, and now I am convinced they’re real. They do not actually conflict with Christian doctrine, but are shunned because they’re not part of our dominant belief system. I like to stand apart from what “everybody” thinks and question it. So get ready for a post on channeling and reincarnation.

From Kate I received a thoughtful response to this post on agnosticism:
Being agnostic for me means not having enough confidence (or direct experience) to make truth claims about ultimate reality. The grand scheme of things may well be knowable, but intelligent people across the world have diverse, even opposing, points of view on topics such as channeling, which always gives me pause. I do envy people who are confident believers, while I try to live a good life based on "as if." And my "as if" beliefs coincide with your points about Spirit in the agnosticism blog.
These words may set some readers to nod in agreement. I, however, have strong convictions about more than the points I listed.

Friday, August 13, 2010

The power of consciousness

Physical reality is an effect of consciousness, not the cause of consciousness. . . . Objective reality is a product of inner reality. . . . an extension of our mind. We are meant to look at the objective conditions we are creating and use it as feedback on the state of our inner world. (Sondra Lewis)

At this time in my life I consider it my assignment to prod people past the strictures of a particular religion to a larger spiritual vision, one that includes all religions and more. Sondra’s information about the power of consciousness can help us to do that.

These are thoughts I jotted down after her talk at my house, the subject—Our Thoughts Shape our Lives. She wrote qualifiers to my statements (bolded here):
** Energy=Matter=Consciousness—3 forms of the same thing.
** Consciousness is primary—all we see is the result of Consciousness.
** If we don't guide our thoughts intentionally, we create a reality we don't want by default.
Not exactly. We create the reality we have by default when we aren't aware that we create. BUT, that reality can be awful, wonderful and spectacular, or anything in between.

** What we focus on (like what's wrong with the world) gets bigger.
Yes, BUT, Anything we focus on gets bigger - what we want, or, what we don't want. Either way, paying attention to it is giving it energy.
** The point of power is now. We can change what we don't like.

Experiments in quantum physics support this assumption about the power of consciousness. Here is how Jim Rosemergy, a writer for Unity magazine (July/August 2010) put it:
At the atomic level, there are no objects; there are possibilities, When we observe, when we bring consciousness to bear, "particles" tend to take form.
Here are common thought patterns we may want to change:
** The U.S. should remain dominant because it has the world's best values.
** The universe is not a friendly place.
** The world is heading for self-destruction.
** If others get more, we get less.

Thought patterns I'm cultivating:
** Life is fun and interesting.
** When we give more to others, there’s more for ourselves.
** There are enough people in the world with heightened consciousness to turn around the problems. A SHIFT IN CONSCIOUSNESS IS OCCURRING.

Spiritual reality includes a vast expanse of individual entities with advanced consciousness separate from the Prime Source—“God.” (Christians call these individuals without bodies angels & saints.) SO, when we pray, "Help!" someone's listening. Traditional religion has some things right. I know, I know, my atheist friends don't accept this.

Reply to comments (August 15) after this post:

Clarification for Florian:
As the Catholic theologian Karl Rahner stated, God is not an individual alongside other individuals.
The Prime Source ("Divinity" or "God") is in all and all is in God. Individuals, some with bodies, some not, cannot be defined as God but they have divinity or godliness IN them. So they are separate from God in one sense, not separate in another sense.

Sondra puts it well: We are all extensions of God.

To Green Monk:
You're right. It IS the message of The Secret. I haven't read that book and am not drawn to it because of media hoopla connected with it—“wish for a car & you’ll get it." I hate seeing this concept used to feed American consumerism; we surely don’t need more acquisitive greed.

Turning around our consciousness to create a more desirable reality requires hard inner work, and victims could benefit greatly from it. I’ve been working with the concept for close to 30 years and I’m Exhibit A for testing it. Without divulging the details, (I’m not ready to go public with the most painful ones), I’ll say that I worked myself out of the expectation and therefore the reality that I was meant to suffer and have less than others. I moved out of a chronic state of unhappy anxiety to peace and satisfied engagement with life's challenges.

I have to warn readers by repeating myself: Turning around our consciousness requires hard inner work; it requires becoming familiar with our unconscious expectations, attitudes, etc. Most people are unaware of their own thinking below the surface of their thought stream.

The New Testament and many religious messages also tell us that our thoughts shape our reality, but their word for accomplishing this is "faith." In the gospels, Jesus of Nazareth often encourages people to have faith. Faith as the Nazarene uses it does NOT mean belief in religious doctrine; it means TRUST IN SPIRITUAL POWER. You see, we’re back to our thoughts shaping reality.

In non-religious terms, the man Jesus was living and preaching the power of consciousness.

More comments.

Florian said August 15, 2010. You know, you use a lot of spatial adjectives and substantives when talking about God: God is WITHIN. God is IN all things. God is not ALONGSIDE other individuals. God is not an EXTERNAL being who is OUT THERE. We are all EXTENSIONS of God.

If you would just stick with your earlier claim that God is beyond dualities, then you could just say that God is non-spatial, since he/it is beyond the INNER and the OUTER, the HERE and THERE (though we must be careful not to construe the word “beyond” itself as a spatial term). But then, to be consistent, you yourself would have to refrain from using spatial words and from dwelling on spatial images. It would be better to do that than to balance the external God image by insisting on the opposite (and predominantly liberal and equally distorted) distortion of God as some “spiritual stuff” INSIDE of everything.

Blogger Jeanette said on August 16: Yes, I do use spatial adjectives in trying to describe what we call God, which is indescribable or inexpressible or ineffable. I've called it the Within and the Beyond and the More. Somewhere in my book I say it's in, under, through, and on top of everything. Being human, we describe non-physical realities in physical terms.

But spiritual reality has no physical dimensions and this is the reason all religious language must be understood figuratively, not literally. Whatever we say misses the mark, as a wise Eastern saying reminds us.

Stay tuned for more on consciousness and Seth Speaks by Jane Roberts. Even better, get the book and let’s dialogue about it.