IN OTHER WORDS, YOUR ARGUMENT DOESN'T HOLD WATER
JESUS, I'M DISAPPOINTED IN YA!
I Thought You Were Better Than This.
That was my point: Your argument lacks substance, or base. Mine is at least legitimate, and no "game." If you can't take the trouble to discuss points you yourself have made, many of which are indefensible, there is no sense in posting them on an open forum.
I won't embarrass you by further pointing out the inaccuracies, inconsistencies, overbroad generalizations, and baseless assumptions in your argument here. I'll do it here. I'm sure you mean well. You just need to focus. Good luck with that. And have a nice Sunday. We're all liberal Christians, here, right? But that doesn't mean we all have to believe exactly the same thing. Nor does it mean we cannot discuss our differences. That's what open forums are for, right? Does that conflict with your beliefs? Or, is that a "straw man," too?
OK, I've been dancing around this a bit, hoping to give you a chance to better your argument. I didn't want to point how generally flaky, and childishly optimistic it is. (Does "New Age" mean "No Brains"?) I didn't want to rub your nose in the obvious errors of fact, even in simple things like dates. But your willful ignorance, or ignoring of actual events in favour of psuedointellectual "meta-events" and mere notions is just SO totally disconnected from reality.
Let's take another look at what you actually wrote. You did write it yourself, right? You seem awfully defensive about it, and cannot discuss any of your own points. Are they not your own points? For the sake of argument, I'll assume so.
*A Fourth Great Awakening, since the 60s? What was the evidence for that, or for the first three? None offered, as to the vast majority of the human race. Did you mean, current New Age flakiedom? Or nouveau-born-again intolerance? Nothing new about that. Some awakening. In fact, most people have put religion to bed. For good. And soe of those who haven't are now picking up guns. I only WISH they'd go back to sleep!
**Presumably, by "all of religious humankind" you mean a few clerics, since that's all you reference.
***"The early days of the Enlightenment"? In the fourteen and fifteen hundreds? Wow. That's REAL early! And the industrial revolution, and full, widespread urbanization were still centuries away, as were the effects of most post-medieval technologies. What contact there was between religions amounted to forcing conversions at swordpoint; torture; and burning people at the stake. VERY enlightened!
****From 1893 onwards, what we actually saw was a rapid escalation of hostilities between nations, and individuals. Ever heard of World War One, or Two? The Holocaust? How about the Nuclear Age, or the Cold War? How about the first wave of American imperialism abroad? Or the last wave of European imperialism in Asia and Africa? That's what was ACTUALLY happening, in the REAL world, in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. On the strictly religious front, we have the beginnings of the Arab-Israeli conflict, with the first European Jewish settlements in Palestine, and the run-up to the Hindu-Muslim split in the Indian subcontinent. In the US, there were crosses going up all over: But they were being set on fire, by a newly-resurgent Klu Klux Klan. They often cited the Bible in their racist diatribes, and seemed indistinguishable at times from the coterminous fundamentalist revivalism that swept the country. They were both equally anti-Catholic and anti-Semitic. So much for *****"global mind change."
******"Because of the size of the Roman Catholic communion, it has outsize influence within Christianity." Hunh? Perfect example of fuzzy logic, in humans. Because of its' huge size, it has outsize influence? No, the size of its influence is EXACTLY right, in proportion to its' numbers. Jeez. Do the math. This kind of math, or grammar, or logic, whatever it is, makes your whole essay seem whack, yo. From now on, only ONE chalice of communion wine before posting! After that, orgy like it's the end of the world.
*******"Other traditions had become more interesting than threatening"? In the more genteel American suburbs, maybe, but not in the world at large. Religious wars were blossoming all over the world in the 1960s. If you want to credit psychedelic drugs, sure, there was a change in some people's minds there: Some were driven mad, others died, and many of the rest eventually became Republicans; alas. Then they found religion, as an excuse for their politics.
If you had said, "I WISH this had happened, or "I HOPE this is happening" or "Please, God, let this happen," I would have been right there with you. Sounds great. It just never happened. And nothing you've said proves that it did. I can see why you refuse to argue your points. You can't. They are weak and insubstantial. It's so because you say it's so, or because one of your sources says it is, without reference to any facts. Bushwa! I thought you were more tough-minded than that. This is an unidentifiable soup, and thin at that.
Human spirituality is an uniquely individual thing. Even two people sitting next to each other in the same church at the same time don't experience the very service itself in the same way. The endless attempts of clerics and scholars to tame, define and direct everyone else's individual religious experience is futile, and dangerous. It presupposes some superiority on the part of clerics and academics, and demands obediance to them, and their masters, in the purely temporal world: Generals, politicians, bureaucrats, judges, police, et al. The bad guys. Ultimately, the demand is that everything be subordinated to this hierarchy, even our consciences. The power of our own spirituality should remain inside of us, and fuel our best efforts toward being good people, not good followers. There is not now, never was, and never will be a mass movement or "awakening" that has a conscience.
Footnotes refer to:
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Tales from the Road
Submitted by Melanie on Thu, 11/11/2004 - 1:33pm. Books | The Prophetic Voice | Theolog
For some time now, probably since the late sixties, those with their spiritual antennae well tuned have been aware that something new is going on in the realm of the spirit. As George Monbiot noted in The Guardian earlier this week, if you look at the US alone, something like a fourth Great Awakening* seems to be underway. His analysis, that it is a fearful return to economic Calvinism, is mostly correct. But his analysis is incomplete because there is at least one other "change of mind" in process right now.
To help explore this, it is useful to review a little history because it has happened several times before.
Philosopher of history Karl Jaspers is famous for his work on what he named "The Axial Age," the period in history in which the human race fully developed its spiritual imagination and all of the great historical religious traditions were born, roughly the period from 3500 BCE to 600 CE. He leaves the effort there and says it was a one-shot phenomenon. I, and a number of other religious historians, disagree. I believe that there have been at least two others, one of them a success and one of them a failure.
The second Axial Age occured worldwide during what we in the west consider the High Middle Age, roughly the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. This was the period when love mysticism flourished across all the traditions: in Christianity, the focus in spiritual writing turned from rules to direct experience of the divine in such writers as Bernard of Clairvaux. His 87 sermons on "The Song of Songs" are the flowering of love mysticism in the Christian west. Francis of Assisi's nature mysticism is a part of the same historical moment. At roughly the same time, Moses Maimonides was teaching the Empty Way of Love in the Jewish tradition. Sufism flowered in Islam, the Bhakti tradition was embraced in Hinduism and temporary monasticism became normative for all observents in much of the Buddhist tradition. Within a couple of hundred years, all of religious humankind** had a change of imagination in the way they experienced their relationship with the transcendent and with each other.
Another such period occured in the 15th and 16th centuries, but this change of imagination was reactive, as humanity in much of the west (and parts of the east) bumped into the Enlightenment's early days***: mass production of information, urbanization, economic dislocation and the relaxation of religion's grip on the state following the religious wars of the time. The result was increasing factionalization, and the development of denominationalism as all the tradition responded with fissures. Protestantism rose in Christianity, and then further split, deep tensions developed between Sunni and Shi'a Islam. The divisions between Sephardic and Ashkenaz Judaism widened following the Spanish expulsion, and the Buddhist traditions split along ethnic lines while Hinduism developed further cultic observations of the various deities which revealed the God-head. The human imagination changed again and claimed a much smaller space for the individual in the human-divine relationship.
I would argue that the origins of our current opportunity for global mind change***** can be found in the first international Parliament of World Religions in 1893.**** In this, the various traditions at least acknowledged each other as legitimate human religious expressions, even if they didn't agree on much else. But the doors were open to mutual theological reflection between traditions and the rate of exchange only deepened in the intervening decades.
Because of the size of the Roman Catholic communion, it has outsize influence within Christianity.****** The Second Vatican Council (1962-65) produced an earthquake within Christianity--and, eventually, all of the great faith traditions--when it announced that salvation is a mystery and at least elements of it are present in all of the traditions. If you were brought up in the Church prior to the Council, you were taught "no salvation outside the Church," which is what the Church historically taught. That changed at Vatican II and, as a result, theological consultation between the traditions became the norm rather than the exception. Vatican II may have had even greater influence on the Protestant Christian denominations than it did on Catholicism, as the Protestants now had to define themselves with regard to their own traditions, teachings and histories, rather than as simply in opposition to Rome (which, by the 50's, had been most of what the ordinary lay worshipper would have known about their faith.) Thomas Merton and D.T Suzuki introduced each other to their respective traditions, Muslim scholars and Hindu holy men were consulted for the wisdom of their traditions. The world had sped up, the population was mobile and the other traditions became interesting rather than threatening.*******
Because I'm having to give you broad strokes, rather than writing an ecclesiastical tome, the above may come off as excessively optimistic. All of this religious foment, combined with foment in the secular culture, has thrown off a number of things which are less than wonderful: the development of fundamentalisms and its opposite, the creation of specious syncreticisms in which bits and pieces of various traditions are combined on personal whim, leading to a seriously narcissistic kind of spirituality rather than one that opens the self outward to others and the divine.
But consider the potential of the present moment: all of the wisdom traditions have something to offer each other by delving deeply into themselves. To the extent that I've deeply dug into Christianity, I may have something to say to a Muslim scholar. In this post-modern model, called "alterity," finding your depths by finding your edges through meeting the Other, becomes the road to spiritual growth. Global mind change as positive possibility and post-modern depth is only aided by the existence of the Internet, where all traditions can be in dialogue with each other in the lives of their practitioners. But it requires both insight and knowledge to conduct this correctly.
If you would like to think more about this, I recommend Christian evangelical theologian Miroslav Volf's marvelous spiritual autobiography, "Exclusion and Embrace" for further reflection. You don't have to know any academic theology to read this book, it is written for a lay audience, and it is a lyrical and troubling book. I have it on great authority (no less than that of Geoffrey Wainwright, the great Duke University theologian and liturgist) that this is one of the most important books on spirituality written in the last dozen years. Go sample the waters the taproots drink from.
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