All historical experience demonstrates the following: our earth cannot be changed unless in the not too distant future an alteration in the consciousness of the individuals is achieved.
Catholic theologian, Hans Kung
And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake.
Mark 13: 37
Waking up and becoming more and more conscious, aware, and alert are fundamental tasks of being a disciple and growing in faith and spiritual maturity. Some of us sleepyheads will resist such bold, open-eyed, clear seeing, tooth and nail. The call to consciousness rings throughout the scriptures and in the season of advent and Christmas the wake-up call is sounded loud and clear.
Real change and transformation is not a simple escape to a dream of a better place. Real change requires an honest appraisal and engagement with what is so. This may involve getting our noses rubbed in some realities we do not like. It may require first creating enough safety for oneself to speak aloud truths long denied, forgotten, or covered up with various kinds of painkillers and band aids. Before our external reality changes, before the people, institutions, and conditions around us change for the better, we must change internally. Our inner reality conditions and shapes how we see, experience, and respond to exterior reality.
A Box of Dread
Remember Pandora’s box? When I was a child I was fascinated and horrified by the myth of the young woman created by Zeus, who was given special gifts by each of the gods. In addition, Zeus added the gift of curiosity to her other gifts of beauty and wisdom. Then Zeus sent Pandora to earth to be Epimetheus’ wife. Zeus was still angry with Epimetheus’ brother, Prometheus, who had stolen fire from the gods. Pandora arrives on Epimetheus’ doorstep with a wedding gift from Zeus. The gift was a box or jar with a lid.
Read more of Waking Up Is Hard to Do, Autumn 2017 Issue of Holy Ground
The age of spirituality lite,
and the gospel as entertainment is over.
Observations and Update
From The Sanctuary
2017 annual letter
Learn what I have been hearing over the past year, as I listened in over 300 conversations with people struggling with the challenging task of waking up and not giving up. When “things fall apart and the center cannot hold,” will the falcon hear the falconer?
Posted in Advent, Christianity, contemplation, Contemplation, prayer, Justice, Spiritual Formation
Tagged consciousness change, facing evil, Peter W Marty, spiritual maturity, transformation, Waking up
The moral revival that certain people wish to impose will be much worse than the condition it is meant to cure. If our present suffering ever leads to revival, this will not be brought about through slogans, but in silence and moral loneliness, through pain, misery and terror, in the profoundest depths of each man’s spirit. Simone Weil
To accept defeat, to accept suffering for love of God and in obedience to God’s will is extraordinarily difficult. Yet such surrender is what saves us. The purification of our intention, the corrections in our thinking, the deepening compassion, and the redemptive power released from the profoundest depths of a person’s spirit transforms, heals, and frees. The church, as the place which could most clearly articulate and live out how to die to oneself, personally and corporately, seems to avoid any direct attention to such a notion. More often we find ourselves caught up in the push and glamour of success, the tasks of survival, and pumping up egos, rather than teaching them how to die.
That I must die to myself and suffer loss and pain and that such a death might be participation with Christ in a redemptive mystery goes against the grain of the independent self reliant spirit and the “me first” character of our times. However, when we settle for slogans, consultants, and committees, we circumvent the opportunity to discover strength in weakness and victory in failure. We build our case on ideology and successful practices, rather than a witness to God and faith. We succumb to a simplistic understanding of God’s saving action in history as winners or losers, and do not know ourselves as active participants in the redeeming of a broken world.
I am not sure why we don’t get this. Christians are a people who bow before a man dying on a cross, for heaven’s sake.
Christians the world over are about celebrate that dying man. They will tell again the ancient story of their God and how he came to be betrayed, humiliated, beaten and nailed to a tree. They will recall how this God, who was supposed to bring an end to their sorrow and oppression, failed miserably.
They will remember, too, how they failed miserably. How they betrayed, abandoned, and killed their God. They will see again how they had got things all wrong, how they had so horribly misperceived the truth with their narrow minds, jealous hearts, and faithless souls.
And they will be astonished by the Grace, which rolled away the stone of their rigidity and fear, and defied their wildest imaginations. What they thought was ruined and dead now stood before them in the bright morning sun and spoke, “Go and tell the others to go to Galilee. They will see me there.”
This was an old story. Calling something names, beating up something, and killing it to take away our pain and anger and sin wasn’t new. For thousands of years, we had been killing things and one another and offering them up to God as a way to set things right, get what we want, and make up for the messes we made.
But this time was different. In their fury and fear, this time they killed God, divinity itself. And Holiness let them. God wore their spit upon his face, their rage upon his back. He opened wide his arms to be penetrated by their malice.
This time God said, “OK. I will show you. This is what it looks like to kill God. This is what it means to see the truth about yourselves. This is how to love.
I am willing to bear the pain of your sins against me and against yourselves. This is what forgiveness looks like. This is what peace costs.”
With that willingness and love their God sucked the poison out of sin. He defused the power and grip of evil on the human heart. He took the hell out of everlasting damnation and gave them eternal life.
And he told his followers to do the same with the suffering in their lives.
Today many Christians wear little replicas of that cross of execution like tiny gold electric chairs or lethal injection needles. They wear death on a string and carry life in their hearts.
For having died with their God, they rise with him. And from the profoundest depths of their spirits flow rivers of living water. This is what a moral revival looks like.
Everyone who is thirsty, come.