A commentor on the previous post Our Images of God was concerned with my quoting of Alan Watts specifically, and the apparent direction of my spiritual journey in general. It was a great exercise to go through to craft a reply, and it took some time to think it through. You can still see the comment on the post, but I thought I'd put it up on it's own here as it's a reasonable and short explanation of where my head is at these days. As always, feedback and input is welcomed and appreciated. (I've added a couple of links in this version.)
The overarching theme which I have been trying for some time to communicate here is that I am now embracing an evolutionary worldview. Everything changes, all the time. Everything is in process. The challenge and the fascination for me has been in applying that to my own faith. I can see how to some it could appear that I may be "embracing the unknown at the expense of the known" but in fact what I am doing is exploring what comes next.
One of the central tenets of such a worldview is to include and transcend. I am incredibly grateful for where I have been, how I was raised, what I believed, etc. Now those things need to be reviewed somewhat critically. As I learn and grow, what still makes sense? What is helpful? Most importantly (yes, I said "most") what is proving itself through my own experience? Those I include. Other beliefs I transcend. That's an important word. I don't reject them them, I don't dismiss them. In fact, I celebrate them as being helpful for a certain part of my journey, then I move on. This is a very important distinction.
The way I see it there are at least two forces at play here - mystery and change. The first part is easy... That's the stuff we don't know. I do appreciate that Catholic theology makes a lot of room for this. Richard Rohr (a Franciscan) and Pierre Tielhard de Chardin (the late Jesuit anthropologist) are two of my biggest influences these days. Granted they'll never be mistaken for good conservative Catholics, but hey, they're Catholic nonetheless! Change is a little harder to nail down; this is where evolution comes in. As I've described above, the "transcend" act may require me to leave behind certain thoughts and beliefs. It may also result in moving some things I once thought I knew back over to the mystery side of the ledger.
A final word on critical thinking. I used to have a real problem with this important skill. I'd come to respect someone's thinking and soak it all up. Inevitably if I kept listening and reading long enough I'm come across something that didn't quite resonate, or with which I completely disagreed. I'd end up profoundly disappointed and feel like I needed to throw out everything I had learned from that person. Now I firmly believe I can learn from absolutely anyone. I also believe we are all flawed, so if we look long enough we'll find a reason to reject anyone's thinking.