It is indeed right and wise that we interpret and update scriptures and our tradition to mirror the prevailing spiritual consciousness. But, I pause. Do we sufficiently consideration the consequences of what we end up doing? For, while we chip away at the rock on which the Church is built, we expose it to the changing weather, and the rains with eroding floods, that could sweep under the structure. Who will care for the displaced poor in spirit? Well may we marvel at the stately pleasure dome we erect over the rubble. But, will its supports stand up when the rains revisit? There will be a fall of Babel proportions. Our detractors then will mock us. “Where is their God”, They will say?
There was a popular rebuttal during my undergraduate years. It went, “While Karl Marx was calling religion the opium of the masses, he was peddling his own brand of narcotics.” He was not the first to think so; and there have since been many peddlers, off many roofs. Some have amassed amazing wealth on platitudes that could be dreamed up, given the leisure of time and a comfortable armchair.
In vain do pastors strike “mea culpa” over vacant pews (and dwindling takings). The fault lies not in the gestures, rituals or rhetoric, but in a seismic shift in the universal consciousness. No longer are people content to be dumb participants in liturgy, they want to actively participate in worship, with a desire to interact as the heart directs. Nothing new. A frustrated Catholic, John Dryden, complained of “ pious times, ere priestcraft did begin, ere polygamy was made sin …” He goes on to say that people with many multiplied their kind etc. In fact, this restlessness, this primal urge for freedom, goes back to the garden of Eden, when our first parents wanted to feel free and equal to God. This was of course the cause of all our woes; yet paradoxically, it was a grace freely given to humans, as natural as breath and life-giving senses and organs. Being human, we are never content with the gift itself, but feel compelled to nudge the boundaries a bit further by degrees.
With Civilization came cultures; cultures constructed social structures necessary for survival. To dominate the environment and to make it safe and conducive, human inventiveness set a path of scientific and technological progress – the start of our emerging wonderful world. We have become masters of the empirical and the laws of physics. While this “worldly wise” half of our minds developed, it largely neglected the part inhabited by intimations of another life. We call it our spiritual self. A wide chasm has occurred, with each side refuting all that the other side stands for. In hubris, and from relative positions of strength, each side has tried to dominate and extinguish the other. It is a futile exercise for both the creature and the divine are indivisible; parts of the same person that cannot exist in just a single dimension.
Though still in denial, while our physical features and inventiveness evolved, there has been a current of correlative changes in our consciousness. That is inevitable. For, as our material horizons expanded even our psychic perceptions expanded to absorb the the emerging macrocosm. One feeding off the other and yet unable to exist without the other. So, the “Thou shalts” begin to be replaced by sophisticated communications with the Divine. Fire and brimstone, retributions and changes in fortune, based on transgressions, are relegated to past understandings. The drama of Cause and Effect is being played out on a different plane with our consciousness being transformed – now more compatible and reflective of the emerging brave new world. It’s hard to shed our emotions, and lessons of our childhood indoctrination. Yet, what an enriched and fulfilling faith awaits those wise enough to read the emerging natural signs.
Conservatives grow with an obsession for a squeaky clean image from their formative years. Resulting, in uniform achievements in the leadership stakes. Like studious bookkeepers they watch the double line ledgers in case there is an overflow in the trickling effect. Labour by contrast has had a crop of fallible leaders that grew to the status of Shakespearean heroes. Their hallmarks have been charisma, boldness, vision and the indefatigable desire to make a difference. One side shows preoccupation with quibbling and grandstanding as modern-day Sir Oracles, amassing wealth but little else. The other side labours to expand and nourish the common wealth. It is good that we are gifted with this splendid isolation, sheltered from the tsunamis that threaten and rock the continents oceans away. Our leaders only have to contend with minor swells, mostly of their own making. O happy lot!