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Center for Action and Contemplation
Movements of Justice and the Spirit
Movements of Justice and the Spirit

Find the Flow

Friday, November 18, 2022

CAC teacher Brian McLaren invites us to participate in a spiritual movement of the future instead of one that tries to return to the past:  

Since between 3000 and 4000 BCE, when the first human civilizations were born, we have been part of one meta-movement [DM Team: way of thinking or dominant consciousness] we might call the old humanity or imperial humanity. . . . [But] what happens when a meta-movement runs its course? . . .  

What would it mean for us if we happen to live during the decline of the old humanity, when a new humanity is in the painful, fragile process of being born? . . . What if the growth of the new movement, the new humanity, the new social creation or construction depends on the old one losing its hegemony?  

As I write those words, I can’t help but feel a flood of resonances with the Hebrew Scriptures. [1] I feel echoes of Isaiah, speaking of God doing a new thing, something fresh springing forth, so that there will be good news for the poor, recovery of sight for the blind, freedom for the incarcerated and oppressed. (Oppression of the poor is one of the hallmarks of the old humanity.) I hear the prophet imagining a promised time when weapons are recycled into farm equipment because nobody studies war any more. (War is one of the hallmarks of the old humanity.) I hear Ezekiel’s oracle about a new heart, a heart of flesh that replaces the heart of stone. (The hardening of hearts in the name of self-interest and in-group interest is a hallmark of the old humanity.) I hear Amos envisioning a time when a river of justice rolls down from the heights, filling the lowest places first. (A concentration of power and wealth at the top is a hallmark of the old humanity.) I hear Micah relativizing everything in his religion except doing justice, loving kindness, and walking humbly before God. (Hoarding power, loving money, and walking in racial, religious, or national pride are hallmarks of the old humanity.) . . .  

And so I imagine: in the middle of the old meta-movement of empires, domination, extraction, and exploitation, what if a long succession of prophets, including Mary, John the Baptizer, Jesus, Paul, and others, were giving us a vision for a new movement being born? . . .  

Whatever this new emerging meta-movement is, it is bigger than any single religion. In fact, it is bigger than religion as a whole. It issues an invitation, perhaps even an ultimatum, to all religions, all economies, all educational and political systems, all arts and trades, all sciences and technologies, everything. It is, we might say, a spiritual movement that encompasses everything. . . .  

Wherever you invest your life, I hope it will be in this larger movement laboring for the birth of something new. Embrace the long view and find the deep current, the infinite flow.   


[1] The scripture passages mentioned here are Isaiah 43:19, 61:1, 2:4; Ezekiel 11:19; Amos 5:24; and Micah 6:8. 

Brian D. McLaren, Do I Stay Christian? A Guide for the Doubters, the Disappointed, and the Disillusioned (New York: St. Martin’s Essentials, 2022), 185, 186, 187, 191. Emphasis added. 

Explore Further. . .  

Image credit: Khamkéo Vilaysing, Lonely Tree (detail), 2017, France, photograph, Unsplash. Anastase Maragos, Calm Tide (detail), 2020, Canada, photograph, Unsplash. Clark Gu, Untitled (detail), 2020, Korea, photograph, Unsplash. Jenna Keiper & Leslye Colvin, 2022, triptych art, United States. Click here to enlarge image.  

Image inspiration: We cannot see the wind, but we feel it. We recognize its presence by watching the world around us move in response to its power. At times, the movement of Spirit towards justice feels invisible and interminably slow, but like waves slowly shaping the shoreline, in time we see the fruits of God’s movement. 

Story from Our Community:

My husband was ordained a Deacon in 1978, and we both embraced it with expectant joy. Our lives were marked by the turmoil, reforms and sadness of the past few decades of the Catholic church. . . [Today] we love the Catholic faith, but not the institution. Thanks to the CAC, the Daily Meditations, and Fr. Richard Rohr, we have an entirely new vision for the meaning and possibilities of church. This new understanding has brought us deep peace. People may see us as just a couple of folks in the pew, but we know that our vision of Church has expanded beyond the limits of an institution. With deep Gratitude! —Joanne H. 

Share your own story with us.

Prayer for our community:

God, Lord of all creation, lover of life and of everything, please help us to love in our very small way what You love infinitely and everywhere. We thank You that we can offer just this one prayer and that will be more than enough,  because in reality every thing and every one is connected, and nothing stands alone. To pray for one part is really to pray for the whole, and so we do. Help us each day to stand for love, for healing, for the good, for the diverse unity of the Body of Christ and all creation, because we know this is what You desire: as Jesus prayed, that all may be one. We offer our prayer together with all the holy names of God, we offer our prayer together with Christ, our Lord, Amen.

Listen to the prayer.


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