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From Mysticism to Politics

Politics: Week 1

From Mysticism to Politics
Friday, July 13, 2018

Everything begins in mysticism and ends in politics. —Charles Péguy (1873-1914) [1]

In last fall’s issue of the Center for Action and Contemplation’s journal, Oneing, Wes Granberg-Michaelson, our good friend and neighbor here in New Mexico and the former General Secretary of the Reformed Church in America, traced the path between mysticism—which is actual experience of God or Universal Love—and politics:

Transformative change in politics depends so much on having a clear view of the desired end. Where does that vision come from? Possibilities may be offered by various ideologies, or party platforms, or political candidates. But, for the person of faith, that vision finds its roots in God’s intended and preferred future for the world. It comes not as a dogmatic blueprint but as an experiential encounter with God’s love, flowing like a river from God’s throne, nourishing trees with leaves for the healing of the nations (see Revelation 22:1-2). This biblically infused vision, resonant from Genesis to Revelation, pictures a world made whole, with people living in a beloved community, where no one is despised or forgotten, peace reigns, and the goodness of God’s creation is treasured and protected as a gift.

Such a vision strikes the political pragmatist as idyllic, unrealistic, and irrelevant. But the person of faith, whose inward journey opens his or her life to the explosive love of God, knows that this vision is the most real of all. It is a glimpse of creation’s purpose and a glimmering of the Spirit’s movement amid the world’s present pain, brokenness, and despair. This vision also recognizes the inevitable journey of inward and outward transformation—the simultaneous, continuing transformation of the inward hearts of people liberated by God’s astonishing grace and the outward transformation of social and economic structures liberated by God’s standards of justice.

So, for the Christian, politics entails an inevitable spiritual journey. But this is not the privatized expression of belief which keeps faith in Jesus contained in an individualized bubble and protects us from the “world.”. . . Rather, it is a spiritual journey which connects us intrinsically to the presence of God, whose love yearns to save and transform the world. We are called to be “in Christ,” which means we share—always imperfectly, and always in community with others—the call to be the embodiment of God’s love in the world. . . .

The necessary detachment from this ugly and injurious present political climate depends upon our inner attachment to the mystery of God’s unbounded grace and divine, creative love. That is the foundation from which we can witness to truth, nurture community, and build essential bonds of solidarity with those who suffer. More than ever, politics which offers redemptive hope will begin with mysticism.

References:
[1] Charles Péguy, Notre Jeunesse (Paris: Cahiers de la Quinzaine, 1910), 27. Original text: “Tout commence en mystique et finit en politique.”

Wes Granberg-Michaelson, “From Mysticism to Politics,” “Politics and Religion,” Oneing, vol. 5 no. 2 (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2017), 17, 21.

Image credit: Dorothy Day OblSB (1897-1980) was an American journalist, social activist, and Catholic convert. She became a key figure in the Catholic Worker Movement and earned a national reputation as a political radical. Learn more at http://dorothydayguild.org/.
Inspiration for this week’s banner image:
As long as we unquestioningly buy into the egoic system, where the roots of our narcissism often lie hidden, we’re going to have problems. If we think we can say our private prayers and still genuflect before the self-perpetuating, unjust systems of this world, our conversion will not go very deep or aid in the unfolding of history. Dorothy Day was not afraid to say it strongly: “We need to change the system. We need to overthrow, not the government, . . . but this rotten, decadent, putrid industrial capitalist system which breeds such suffering.” —Richard Rohr
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