I continue to slog away reading Karen Armstrong’s “The Case for God.” Typical of Armstrong, it is fulled with detail. I loved the first chapter on prehistoric “religion” and rituals. She argues that
The desire to cultivate a sense of the transcendent may be the defining human characteristic….
Like art, the truths of religion require the disciplined cultivation of a different mode of consciousness. (and, referring to cave drawings) the cave experience always began with the disorientation of utter darkness, which annihilated normal habits of mind. Human beings are so constituted that periodically they seek out ekstasis, a “stepping outside” the norm. Today people who no longer find it in a religious setting resort to other outlets: music, dance, art, sex, drugs, or sport. We make a point of seeking out these experiences that touch us deeply within and lift us momentarily beyond ourselves. At such times, we feel that we inhabit our humanity more fully than usual and experience an enhancement of being.
If it is innate human nature to articulate an understanding of an ultimate reality, and if that ultimate reality only survives as long as there are practiced rituals the reinforce the relationship between human beings and the ultimate reality, and if human beings today are focused on other realities like sports, music, and or drugs, what then does this mean for Judeo-Christian beliefs and practices?
Last week, on the RevGals blog Mary Beth led a conversation on a book written by a Rabbi on the “Emergent” faith that is pushing back at traditional Jewish practices. Christians have been thinking about the emergent church idea since Phyllis Tickle’s book made waves and practitioners of the emerging church concept became popular (Rob Bell, etc.).
I’m not convinced that the emergent church is the future of Christianity. It seems to me that it is just repackaged traditional church led by white men in Hawaiian shirts and big black glasses. Women are NOT a part of the leadership of this movement. People of color are NOT a part of this movement.
I am convinced that Christians (and maybe Jews?) need to spend time revisioning how we practice our faith so that what we do invites us deeply into the mystery of God, enliven us and the God we love.
I’ve read Diana Butler Bass and Carol Howard Merritt on this topic. Now I’m curious to see where Armstrong is going…as she argues her case for God.
On the other hand I am also hunkering down in preparation for a major winter storm expected to hit us hard….that’s what I’m pondering – what about you?