A Great Turning

From the Bottom Up: Summary

A Great Turning
Wednesday, December 27, 2017

In her book Christianity After Religion, church historian Diana Butler Bass writes:

Strange as it may seem in this time of cultural anxiety, economic near collapse, terrorist fear, political violence, environmental crisis, and partisan anger, I believe that the United States (and not only the United States) is caught up in the throes of a spiritual awakening, a period of sustained religious and political transformation during which our ways of seeing the world, understanding ourselves, and expressing faith are being, to borrow a phrase, “born again.” Indeed, the shifts around religion contribute to the anxiety, even as anxiety gives rise to new sorts of understandings of God and the spiritual life. Fear and confusion signal change. This transformation is what some hope will be a “Great Turning” toward a global community based on shared human connection, dedicated to the care of our planet, committed to justice and equality, that seeks to raise hundreds of millions from poverty, violence, and oppression. . . .

Exponential change creates exponential fear along with exponential hope. Massive transformation creates the double-edged cultural sword of decline and renewal. Exponential change ends those things that people once assumed and trusted to be true. At the same time, upheaval opens new pathways to the future. Change is about endings and beginnings and the necessary interrelationship between the two. [1]

In his Letter to the Romans, Paul has a marvelous line: “where sin increased, grace abounded all the more” (Romans 5:20). In so many places, there are signs of the Holy Spirit working at all levels of society. The church might well have done its work as leaven, because much of this reform, enlightenment, compassion, and healing is outside the bounds of organized religion. Only God is going to get the credit.

The toothpaste is out of the tube. There are enough people who know the big picture of Jesus’ thrilling and alluring vision of the reign of God that this Great Turning cannot be stopped. There are enough people going on solid inner journeys that it is not merely ideological or theoretical. This reformation is happening in a positive, nonviolent way. The changes are not just from the top down, but much more from the bottom up. Not from the outside in, but from the inside out. Not from clergy to laity, but from a unified field where class is of minor importance. The big questions are being answered at a peaceful and foundational level, with no need to oppose, deny, or reject. I sense the urgency of the Holy Spirit, with over seven billion humans now on the planet. There is so much to love and embrace.

I am convinced that the only future of the church, the one Body of Christ, is ecumenical and shared. Each of our traditions have preserved and fostered one or another jewel in the huge crown that is the Cosmic Christ; only together can we make up the unity of the Spirit, as we learn to defer to one another out of love.

Gateway to Silence:
You make all things new.

References:
[1] Diana Butler Bass, Christianity After Religion: The End of Church and the Birth of a New Spiritual Awakening (HarperOne: 2013), 5-6.

Adapted from Richard Rohr, Dancing Standing Still: Healing the World from a Place of Prayer (Paulist Press: 2014), 101-102.

FacebookTwitterEmailPrint