I am wanting to share some of what’s been lifting my spirits, in these highly uncertain times… this essay is on the hopeful signs I’ve been seeing, and I’m writing it for my fellow politically-progressive/green, spiritual-but-not-religious peeps… unlike my last two essays, which were written primarily for the conservative evangelical members of my extended family.
Brief summary thus far: my grave concern about the movement toward theocracy in this country, has led me to learning more about what’s happening in the Christian world today. My last article focused on the relationship between Christianity and fascism in the past. Yet in the process, I’ve also been discovering some things that give me hope…
the first of which, is a very diverse movement called progressive Christianity. This is not primarily a political movement— though it is generally much more open to progressive social issues than right-wing fundamentalism. Instead, it seems to be about (formerly) evangelical people who are deeply questioned the faith they have been taught, have grown a great deal through that process, and are creating spaces where faith and questioning can co-exist.
Why do I care so much about this movement if I’m not an evangelical Christian? While raised Catholic, I’ve been “spiritual-but-not-religious for a long time now. Yet my buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hanh recommends to all of his students, that we reconcile with our “religion of origin”. For me, I figure that my “religion of origin” is some version of Christianity; thus, I was delighted to discover this movement to which I can authentically relate.
I have been particularly inspired by an awesome book by Benjamin Corey, “Unafraid”, which I found hard to put down. It’s been fascinating to discover in this book everything I’ve ever secretly thought about those awful hell-and-damnation teachings… along with a great deal more.
Corey comes right out with his considered belief that “God is Love”, full stop — NOT “God is Love but will send you to hell if you don’t believe in him/her/them”. It makes me SO happy, to know that this healing message is spreading among Christians today…
And, i was even happier to learn from Corey that the “Rapture” interpretation is only a few hundred years old; before then, it seems that Christians in the U.S. were much more focused on working toward “creating Heaven on Earth”, than on figuring out how they might benefit from imminent wholesale destruction.
In writing about the visions we hold of the future, and their power to influence our actions (or lack thereof) in the present, Corey makes a reference to the Disney movie Tomorrowland. I’d not heard of it before, so my husband and I decided to watch it last night. We were deeply moved by its timeless message: it’s up to us to create the shared future we want for Earth, and what we choose to do, makes a difference.
Of course, while I enjoyed it tremendously (except for the fight scenes where I covered my eyes) I do have some other quibbles with the movie. While I’ve been a sci fi fan ever since I was a kid, these days I’m more drawn to relational “social technologies” (forms of communication that help support group co-intelligence and co-creativity) than to unbridled tech innovation (which is too often in service of the false god of Capitalism.)
Yet while Tomorrowland did not offer much with regard to the former, its basic message of the powerful role of vision and creative possibility resonated deeply for me… evoking echoes of Karen O’Brien’s “You Matter More than You Think”, on the need for all of us to “Occupy the New Paradigm”. (BTW, my favorite concise description of quantum social change is in Charlotte Weil’s awesome Medium essay on the 2019 Leverage Points conference in Lüneberg, Germany, where Karen O’Brien presented on Day Three…)
Returning to Corey’s Unafraid, and his invitation to Christians to reconsider their focus on being “raptured” from dismal futures, and instead focus on the possibility of “creating Heaven on Earth”; my husband and I have been involved for some time now with the “Jewish Renewal” community. Last night, I was musing that this Christian movement feels to me like a “Christian Renewal” of sorts…
And, with regard to conservative Christians, I have also been seeing inspiring signs of courage. I am very moved by the stance taken by Pro-Life Evangelicals for Biden, a group that counts among its members one of Billy Graham’s granddaughters. This group has received a strong backlash from other evangelicals, yet it may still make some significant difference with regard to election results, as this article implies.
Like most people, I am deeply concerned about the outcome of the elections, and fully agree that the outcome matters tremendously. At the same time, regardless of the outcomes of these elections, I know that there is a tremendous amount of work that still needs to be done, to create a shared positive future here on Earth. And so I have been drawing hope from learning that there is more change afoot than we might realize…
With regard to the climate crisis, time is of the essence. At the same time, I have a deep faith that we can still make a real difference, especially if we can learn how to communicate across the differences that are used to divide us.
Along those lines, a big shout-out to Dr. Karen Tamerius and her work in “Progressively Speaking”, which I’ve recently discovered and wish I’d come across much sooner. It definitely keeps my sense of hope alive, to know there are others who are committed to this much-needed bridge work!
Well, there you have it… what is bringing me hope these days. And I am very interested to hear, what has been keeping your own sense of hope alive…