“Faith itself sometimes needs to be stripped of its social and historical encrustations and returned to its first, churchless incarnation in the human heart.”
—Christian Wiman, poet, philosopher
Whenever a spiritual movement gets to be more than a handful of followers, it is going to have to get organized. There will be agreements made, conscious or unconscious, rules to observe, boundaries set, the emergence of leaders, (and with this power politics). Questions will be raised and somehow answers about who’s in and who’s out, and how to discern this, codes of conduct (how to behave), how to support and resource the community, will it actively seek new followers. How often, in what ways, and for what purpose does the group gather. What are the core beliefs and values of the group? How will the group discipline its members, or will it.
By the time a community of spiritual seekers has answered these questions, a culture and a structure has formed. This is what poet Christian Wiman calls “the historical and cultural encrustrations” of faith. This is what he suggests needs to be stripped down in order to return to the “churchless incarnation of the heart”. Historically, I think that it’s fair to say that the church has spent more time in the encrustation than in the churchless incarnation—which is all that was going on in Jesus. And all that is going on in us when when we’re stripped down to naked Spirit.
He’s right, I think, and it needs to be understood that his ideal faith, rooted in the heart, necessarily goes through these periods of encrustation followed by a stripping process. In truth, the truly alive human being, goes through this stripping process many times in relation to his own personality.
The challenge for institutional incarnation called the church, in both its conservative and liberal forms, is that there are many individuals in the community who do not feel the need to be stripped down from time to time. Those holding power, whose careers depend on the encrustation, those who use the institutional rituals as a bulwark precisely against the stripping and renewing, are often deeply attached to the status quo.
Roughly speaking there are two kinds of people in the church that I’ve experienced. The first type looks at the human condition and their own lot in life, and by and large conclude that life is pretty good. What is required is a minor weekly tweaking of conditions, a good “message” on Sunday morning, something more along the lines of a reminder to be good citizens. These are the ones who bring their children to church to “expose” them to Christian values so that “one day, they will be able to make their own decision”. The church is the Good Ship Morality in a sea of cultural turbulence and sin—thank G_d they are aboard. Their moral and spiritual obligation is to be a life preserver to those in need. These folk aren’t really interested in change. They just want a little bit of support for their overworked lives. Even many so-called liberals can have an understanding of the church that is quite nostalgic. They want church to be the way they remember it.
Then there are those who know what it’s like to be drowning. You could call this type, the twice-born human. This doesn’t necessarily mean that they are fundamentalists in their orientation. They know the power of self-deception. They have been, with Jesus, to the wilderness, there to be tempted by the demons of sex, status, security, and sustenance. They have succumbed. They know how easy it is to confuse the contracted self with their true nature, and they know how addicted they are to their contracted self. They understand that the stripping of the encrusted self is precisely what is required and it’s why they’ve come to church. They have tasted Spirit, both as the power that drove them, with Jesus, into the wilderness in the first place, and then led them to the church. These folk have come for the very purpose of being stripped down, called out, and sent to the cross—to die to their former self and their former life, and to be born again, a new creation. They are looking for a higher mind (meta-noia) than the one that keeps them stuck in the old patterns.
The church that is explicitly evolutionary consists primarily of the twice-born kind of person. In truth, a congregation of evolving mystics, may undergo multiple spiritual births, individually, culturally, and in how it is organized. The community comes together for this very purpose.
Twelfth century Sufi poet, Rumi, captures the mystic appreciation of how being born again is simply a natural expression of the evolutionary trajectory:
I died as mineral and became a plant,
I died as plant and rose to animal,
I died as animal and I was human,
Why should I fear? When was I less by dying?
Yet once more I shall die human,
To soar with angels blessed above.
And when I sacrifice my angel soul
I shall become what no mind ever conceived.
As a human, I will die once more,
Reborn, I will with the angels soar.
And when I let my angel body go,
I shall be more than mortal mind can know.
Can you imagine being a member of such a community? What would it look like? Feel like? Please leave a comment.
Seeing as there are so various families buying online and likewise exploring the internet market place, it has become increasingly famous to purchase medications online. So the next question is where can you get information that is reliable. You can find useful information fleetly and conveniently by going online. The most common sexual problems in men are erectile dysfunction and ejaculation disorders. A lot of doctors think about “levitra cost“. Did learned some about “buy levitra online usa“? Other matter we are going to is “buy generic levitra online“. In effect, a medicinal reviews found that up to three quarters of people on such remedy experience side effects. Luckily, most cases of sexual dysfunction are treatable, so it is momentous to share your concerns with your associate and physician. Today, there are many options for men who suffer from erectile malfunction. Get emergency help if you have any of these signs of a side effect to this therapy. Talk to your heartiness care purveyor to see if it’s sure to make the switch.