Friday, September 24, 2010

crisis, flux--practice as usual

"How morally to respond to change when even our moral sources are changing – is an ancient question," blogs Mike Hogue, in his blog on Tikkun magazine's site.

Changing moral grounding has always been part of the human predicament, but the pace of that change is becoming itself a challenge: "The problem is that the increasing velocity of change in our world, and the scale and intensification of our moral problems may be out-pacing (velocity) and out-spacing (scale) and out-deepening (intensity) our existing moral visions."

He asks, "Are we up to it? Are our moral and religious traditions capable of the radical changes called for by our contemporary challenges?"

Hogue reminds us that "Religious and moral revolutions are not about tweaking things; they are not simply about adjusting principles and norms or reinterpreting symbols and rituals. They emerge through deeper change – change in the deeper infrastructure of religious consciousness and moral practice: changing the world depends on changing lives (minds, hearts and hands)."

He then writes, "Of course not all change is morally constructive, and religious communities have an ambiguous moral history. But our religious communities and institutions, for good and for ill, are the world’s most powerful transformers of cultural imagination and moral practice."

I wonder if this is still true. Perhaps television and/or the internet are more powerful--again for good and for ill.

Or perhaps those technologies are simply tools, for we humans to use. As individuals and as gathered communities, we are still doing the work of co-creating justice, in whatever context we find ourselves.

For example, a number of contemporary spiritual practitioners and philosophers are engaged in an ongoing conversation, the Beyond Awakening series of conference calls, to which over 20,000 people are listening (and downloading), as the leaders discuss how we might adapt/recreate spiritual practices to better ground ourselves as we face the needs of our present time. Perhaps this is just a different form of ecclesia.

Whatever practices we use, however we gather, I agree with Hogue that "Justice is co-created through the joining of deep neighbor-love with delight in the holy.”

There is also a nice conversation in the comments section, as Erik Walker Wikstrom summarizes Tom Driver's book, "Christ in a Changing World"--The one place we will *not* find the Christ is in the past, because Christ is change, is transformation. Hogue agrees, "The Christ need not be a singular historical person, but a character continually calling out for imitation in the present...the Christ can be understood as a model of the kenotic (self-emptying), radically other-regarding life of faith."

It does seem as though the pace--and scale, and intensity--of change is daunting. I know I am struggling to find and embody a practice that grounds me and guides me. But I *am* seeking that practice, and Hogue and the "Beyond Awakening" folks *are* searching for such practices, and we humans have always been engaged in adapting our selves to meet our contexts. Transforming ourselves and our moral practices is *critical* to the survival of our species. Just like it always has been.


At 7:36 AM, Blogger Chip said...

...and there are practices that we don't need to over-think, to worry about transforming them to transform our evolving world. From the theologian / poet Naomi Shihab Nye:


These shriveled seeds we plant,
corn kernel, dried bean,
poke into loosened soil,
cover over with measured fingertips

These T-shirts we fold into
perfect white squares

These tortillas we slice and fry to crisp strips
This rich egg scrambled in a gray clay bowl

This bed whose covers I straighten
smoothing edges till blue quilt fits brown blanket
and nothing hangs out

This envelope I address
so the name balances like a cloud
in the center of sky

This page I type and retype
This table I dust till the scarred wood shines
This bundle of clothes I wash and hang and wash again
like flags we share, a country so close
no one needs to name it

The days are nouns: touch them
The hands are churches that worship the world


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