To summarize the previous post:
- As the gaps disappear we have no need of a God of The Gaps.
- As the shallow spectre of eternal damnation for those who fail to execute a simplistic transaction recedes in the face of a deeper mysticism and an evolving human consciousness, we have no need of a God of Salvation, at least not in the terms we have become accustomed to.
What are we left with? How is God relevant in this brave new world?
There are many different directions we can go with this follow-up. I don't want to belabour the point I was trying to make in Part 1; either it resonated or it didn't. It was not a broad, comprehensive statement about the Christian religion, but I did try to address a kind of faith that is more popular than we might like to admit, particularly those of us with western roots.
Let me start with a quote from the late Dallas Willard (I still can't believe he's gone), taken from one of Bob Buford's My Next Book emails.
"Meaningfulness needs a framework to exist. People lose meaning with no heaven for a context, no significant relationships, no life purpose that might relate to their work. And with no context larger than day-to-day life, negative feelings take us over and eventually drive one to some kind of crash."
There's a danger with any kind of deconstructive work. In the community I was once a part of we often talked about our Toy Box metaphor.
The Box is full of all our toys. These are our accumulated beliefs, principles, doctrines--anything that we once accepted as truth. We pick up the box and unceremoniously dump its contents onto the floor. Often we're surprised by what comes spilling out. We'd forgotten some of this stuff was buried in there, down near the bottom, yet still influencing our thinking, our outlook, our worldview. Slowly and carefully we pick up each item, examine it, and decide if it goes back in the box, or to the curb with the rest of the recycling. When we're finished there are always several ideas that are no longer serving a purpose and need to be discarded.
Tossing the stuff is difficult but it's not the hardest part of the process. The really terrifying moment comes after we have dumped the contents out, and the box is temporarily empty. Some people don't survive that crisis. Or more to the point, some people's faith doesn't survive the crisis. It takes a great deal of courage, usually buttressed by the sad realization that the status quo, that which we had clung to for so long, is now killing us.
Back to the Willard quote.
The quote is taken out of context in that it was originally provided for a "success to significance", personal purpose conversation, but I think my meaning is clear: For many, the faith I have described has formed the meaning in and for their lives. It's understandable that some would resist the rejection of this narrative.
The good news is I believe there is a much deeper, more universal story. It's not the "final" narrative, but it is the next iteration, a further refining if you will. While I still struggle to find the words for it, I will do my best in Part 3 to articulate where I believe we are moving to.
In the meantime I'd like some feedback. If you've gone through the crisis of meaning, or are going through it now, what are you feeling, what have been your fears, etc. Where is the meaning to be found?