i have been challenged this quarter in my thinking theologically…to the core. i think it is a combination of things–the culmination of my time here at fuller, questions i have not yet allowed myself to ask, new questions evidencing as of late, thinking about the unknown and how vast it feels, and trying to make sense of life in a space in which i have never experienced. in some ways, i feel ill-equipped to handle such large, defining questions…yet ones that are looming, ones that i must answer. in other ways, i feel ready to dive in…scared and nervous about the outcome, yet hopeful i will come out with renewed confidence in god.
the introduction to barry’s latest book, entertainment theology: new-edge spirituality in a digital democracy, seems to delve into topics i am beginning to broach.
the spiritual landscape, rather than the religious tradition, has become the arena for theological exploration. and the theological excursion may no longer begin with god and work downward; rather, it will originate in the human experience of searching and seeking and move outward to embrace even wider horizons of life and reality.
~quote extracted from diarmuid o’murchu from quantum theology, page21.
it seems so simplistic to think it all starts the same way, emanating in a similar fashion…like a formula. there is no prescripted norm, there is no way of determining the spiritual.
barry prefaces the above quote by stating,
this faith quest has horizons and parameters that would surprise those who think they understand the dynamics and ingredients that contribute to a quest for meaning. ~page13.
religion, or even spirituality for that matter, looks different in the 21st century. it is not the same…things are not the same…life as was known is not the same…the way religion and spirituality is not the same…so, should we view it the same?
even though people are leaving the church by droves, most of these same people claim belief in god…they still have faith; it’s just different.
the concept of a return to god may not be what we–those in the church, those with a traditional view of god, those who fail to think outside the box, and even those of us in seminary–expect. it may mean a shift in our expectations, a shift in our understanding, a shift in our acceptance, and a shift in meaning.
who is god?
does god change?
do we change god?
is god the same?
is the god of yesterday the same as the god of today?
deciphering the meaning of ‘religion’ and ‘spiritual’–and the difference between the two–seems like a daunting task before me, although i feel like it is one in which i must rectify…rectify to myself, rectify to those i work with, rectify to the culture which surrounds me.
a growing number of people do not find their spiritual beliefs compatible with many more-traditional faith expressions…find[ing] new ways of believing and expressing themselves spiritually. ~page 16.
we shouldn’t knock it because it doesn’t ascribe to our particular faith expressions…necessarily. just like we shouldn’t accept it because it does.
so as barry closes his introduction and moves on to the substance of which he undertakes, he poses what i have taken as the challenge set before me:
sometimes what we hold on to prevents us from experiencing the blossoming of new life. i think there is new life for a faith like christianity, but in order to discover it we may have to let go of other things first and venture into the deep and feel the current of the twenty-first century river. ~page 24.
in order to experience this blossoming of new life i anticipate for myself and for the culture surrounding me,
i must–and am willing to–let go, explore, and venture out.