Today, religious folk are having a hard time with spiritual icons. Viewing the main religions over two thousand years, it is obvious religious institutions have inserted disciplined belief systems which largely benefit continuity of the institution rather than enriching the lives of believers.
Uncountable numbers of books have been written about religion; too many have had to explain again for each historical era what the icons mean and have had to reinterpret the complex integration of spirituality and cultural morality. Now, in the Information Age, principles of religious belief are drowned in a waterfall of instant and constant speculation, experimentation, and analytical second guessing. The mariner confesses to be a part of the deluge. Even so, his motivation is to ease the angst prevalent today.
Believers of many religions are caught today without an acceptable story describing the power of faith and spirituality. On the one hand, the traditional stories are increasingly defined as myths which are not the core value but rather the value is an extended and often confusing meaning of the myths. What is the new creative force? What is the replacement story not of belief but of the powerful reality that still catches our awareness today?
A few clarifications are in order from which we may construct a modern story.
As a broad overview, there have been only three distinct forms of animals in Earth’s history: invertebrates, reptiles and mammals. Only mammals have a brain with a limbic function. The limbic is the source of emotions; emotions are required for mammals because they must manage the early lives of their offspring – therefore requiring a means of sensing the state of offspring. Emotional feelings like sympathy, empathy, and compassion, just to name a few emotions, are the means by which parental awareness is managed. We call these emotions ‘love.’ There are emotions like hate, disdain, possessiveness and many more which ignore the caring emotions – the emotions that grow sustainable life.
The creation story begins many religious histories. The element that is still very much a value today is the awareness that an event or thing is good or that it is bad. The human sense of judgment is far more sensitive than any other mammal’s – even other simians and modern dogs.
The final clarification is imagination. Only humans can perceive what a Universe is; only humans can perceive a different state of being after death and even in inspirational moments while alive; only humans can perceive a nuclear weapon….
A new story about the creative power of God can be derived from our power to create life by using love. Is the act of loving a creative power in the Universe? The old stories hold firmly to the idea that God is Love – the most powerful myth!
The cultural morality derived from love has suffered the most. Early civilizations placed human authority above the larger but less abrasive power of love. Humans drifted from the purity imagined by their religions to follow other emotions like greed, capitalism, nationalism and authoritarianism. Humans used emotions to manufacture selfish benefits rather than support the power that comes from acts of love.
The twenty-first century is a hellish scene: a troubled planet, a restless Sun, a drifting Moon – all props for an Armageddon movie. Then there is the intense greediness of all organizations from governments to corporations to religious institutions – all equating righteousness to numbers of dollars or political favoritism. Sympathy, empathy and compassion are not in control of creation and the situation demonstrates that non-love destroys.
What God looks like is not important. God doesn’t look like anything we can imagine. But what does God do? God loves. There is our doctrine. The twenty-first century needs someone to love it.
Errata – the URL for the Atlantic magazine is www.theatlantic.com Pardon the error.
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