277: Energized by the Great Spirit, the Birthing Holy One begets the vast panorama we call creation.
Day 277: December 18, 2020
Our friend Diarmuid O’Murchu has a new book coming out in February or March next year called Doing Theology in an Evolutionary Way
He introduces his book with a sweeping vision of a future
"Without Church, hierarchy, or formalized religion, it is an open-ended theological landscape, unashamedly postmodern, wild, transgressive, scary, with the proverbial mix of peril and promise. However, it has hope inscribed deep within it, and in that, more than anything else, rests its credibility and authenticity.
Read On! Hold On!
"In the course of the 20th century, theology underwent a massive paradigm shift. Only now, as we move deeper in the 21st century, are the contours becoming clear, and as yet, the implications are largely unexplored. How the shift can be named and explained will largely depend on the context out of which the interpreter is operating.
But it is also dependent on cosmic and planetary forces which today inform human consciousness to a degree unknown in previous times. These new contextual horizons include enlarged scientific understandings of cosmology and anthropology, evolutionary unfolding, quantum physics, consciousness-awareness, globalization, cultural diversity, postmodernism.
As Karl Rahner hinted many years ago, the Christian of the future will be a mystic or will not be at all; this applies even more forcibly to the emerging theology of our time, bearing in mind that mysticism celebrates, above all else, the enduring oneness evidenced throughout creation. The contemporary theologian will be a multi-disciplinary visionary or s/he won’t be at all.
If theology is the science of pursuing ultimate meaning (according to Paul Tillich), today that new horizon requires familiarity with several different disciplines, and needs to transcend the time-honoured distinction between the sacred and the secular
Three theological paradigms are under review in this book. The first two belong to the confessional tradition, Christian in nature and supporting faith in Jesus as the Christ, the source of our salvation.
The third embraces a new sense of God at work, primarily in creation, and laterally in human beings. Celebration of evolutionary life, rather than salvation for humans is the newly emerging horizon.
Coming to the fore is the God who works in and through creation, rather than Jesus and the Christian narrative. As in contemporary theopoetics, the logos of Theos is shifting from an anthropocentric to a cosmic focus.
The first I name as the Co-dependent Paradigm, described simply as Creation – Fall – Redemption. The central emphasis here is on the flawed nature of everything in creation. Although it is God’s creation, God cannot rectify the fall, attributed to human recklessness (an irrational craving for power), so Jesus is missioned to rescue the flawed reality, a task that continues in the life of the Church, often ensuing in humans entangled in several co-dependent relationships. Hence, a primary reason why humans, maturing into a more adult consciousness, walk away from such an unhealthy faith-system.
The second landscape I name as the Imperial Judaeo-Christian Paradigm, which runs like this: Creation – Israel – Jesus – Church – Eschaton. More central to this paradigm is the rescuing imperial God of the Hebrew Scriptures, modelled primarily on the great King David, who in turn becomes the paradigmatic model for Jesus as Messiah. That same kingly royal imperative permeates Christianity up to our own time.
Although vehemently denounced and opposed by Jesus – as argued throughout this book – Constantine re-established the imperial prerogative which then morphed into Popes, Bishops, exclusive male clergy, with accompanying institutions to uphold patriarchal power. Of course, it will never truly satisfy authentic spiritual desire, in which case we need the eschatological clause assuring us that God will eventually bring the whole thing to an end in a final act of divine deliverance.
The third landscape is post-confessional and has a radically different feel to it; even the language will initially seem strange. I name it as the Evolutionary Paradigm. It goes like this: Spirit-Energy – Creation – Evolution – Incarnation – Spirituality. Looks like we have dropped the very word, God! No explicit reference to Father, Jesus, or Holy Spirit, but fret not, they are included. No allusion to Fall, Redemption, Church, or Eschaton. And the reader may already be wondering what has happened to Revelation, and the Inspiration of Sacred Scripture. On top of all that, it looks rather impersonal!
The myth of origin is crucial here, as indeed it is for every faith system. Beyond the ex-nihilo (created out of nothing) prerogative of the patriarchal male Creator, lies a more ancient creative energy, insinuating the dark deep, out of which the Great Spirit energizes all life – ex profundis (from the depths).
The Great Spirit is how indigenous peoples around our world name the divine reality (God). Energized by the Great Spirit, the Birthing Holy One begets the vast panorama we call creation, setting in motion the irreversible complex trajectory which today we call evolution. The evolving creative enterprise eventually gives birth to (incarnates) consciously embodied creatures called humans, for whom the historical Jesus serves as an archetypal model.
Finally, I am suggesting that our primary theological responsibility at this time is to name and celebrate that magnificent mythopoetic drama within an empowering spirituality for our age.
Without Church, hierarchy, or formalized religion, it is an open-ended theological landscape, unashamedly postmodern, wild, transgressive, scary, with the proverbial mix of peril and promise. However, it has hope inscribed deep within it, and in that, more than anything else, rests its credibility and authenticity. "
“HERMITAGE” BY JOSEPH FASANO
It’s true there were times when it was too much
and I slipped off in the first light or its last hour
and drove up through the crooked way of the valley
and swam out to those ruins on an island.
Blackbirds were the only music in the spruces,
and the stars, as they faded out, offered themselves to me
like glasses of water ringing by the empty linens of the dead.
When Delilah watched the dark hair of her lover
tumble, she did not shatter. When Abraham
relented, he did not relent.
Still, I would tell you of the humbling and the waking.
I would tell you of the wild hours of surrender,
when the river stripped the cove’s stones
from the margin and the blackbirds built
their strict songs in the high
pines, when the great nests swayed the lattice
of the branches, the moon’s brute music
touching them with fire.
And you, there, stranger in the sway
of it, what would you have done
there, in the ruins, when they rose
from you, when the burning wings
ascended, when the old ghosts
shook the music from your branches and the great lie
of your one sweet life was lifted?