This is my personal blog. The views expressed here do not necessarily represent those of the congregations or presbytery I serve.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Emerging Christianity Conference

Day One

In the morning, Shane Claiborne reflected on his experience with the Simple Way community in Philadelphia. What does it mean to be fully devoted followers of Jesus? Orthodoxy must bear fruit in Orthopraxis. This means a lifestyle based on the widely and radically inclusive vision of Jesus, and all that entails: restorative justice, reconciliation, cultivating goodness and order. We have to keep laughing and dancing. The tyranny of the urgency can't hijack our joy.

Claiborne is always inspiring and exciting. The question is how do we learn from his experience and apply it in our different contexts. I am particularly interested in whether and how the church does ministry in suburbia. More on this as we go through the week, no doubt....

In the afternoon, we heard from Richard Rohr who talked about non-dual consciousness, which is the same as contemplation, and which is the goal of the Christian life. It is Ken Wilber who said that the purpose of religion is to bring people to a new and broader consciousness. Carl Jung suggests that the greatest problems are fundamentally unsolvable, expressing the necessary polarity of every living system: problems cannot be solved, only outgrown, which is something that happens as the fruit of suffering... if we can find the grace in the suffering.

Karl Rahner: to know we don't know is the beginning of religious consciousness. This means respect for mystery, leaving the horizon open: contemplation. Which is the opposite of dualistic thinking.

Jesus assumes a unitive relationship between God and the person. He creates a moral equivalence between God and humanity, between himself and others, and between any person and God. The Spirit is indwelling in the human person: so finally there is a moral equivalence between all people.

Humanity's deepest need is not for answers, but for communion. We need meaning; to be held rather than to hold.

The traditional model in Christian spirituality is Purgation/Illumination/Union. The purgative way brings our wounds out of the unconscious into consciousness, and into community. Mainstream religion generally does the purgation thing fairly well. And this is helpful in a broken and weak society. But obedience to religious laws is just the first stage of the spiritual journey.

(We did an exercise in non-dual thinking, which involved walking meditation and contemplating a found object.)

Rohr later discussed the difference between being "driven" and being "drawn." The former is anxious, compulsive, goal oriented, with irritation when our goals are not met. The latter is more responsive to the world: interactive and reciprocal.

People need to be into the illuminative stage, which means recognizing the shadows, including some holy dissatisfaction. Only then are they ready for the emergent conversation. We need to be shoved into the world of ambiguity.

In short, Claiborne kind of embodies in gritty urban reality the kind of thinking Rohr is talking about.

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