Monday, May 17, 2010

ECM, Day 5: Preaching from Experience

So I took the weekend off :-). It was a great time for rejuvination. Friday night I talked with three good friends of mine, and Saturday I drove through some of the beauty that is Texas and met with some other friends of mine, with whom I hope to share some more time in the future.

The weekend did help to put some things into perspective. I started understanding our connections more. As I wrote on my other blog today, I heard this in church:
"Spirituality is awareness of our infinite interrelatedness." ~ Felix Adler
People, land, experiences - all connected. Which brings me (mostly logically) to today's topic: experience.  McGinn writes:

"Experience, at least in the minds of many, may suggest a view of mysticism that takes it to be a particular form of feeling or sensible perception easily separable from the higher mental activities of understanding, judging, willing, and loving that form the full range of the conscious life of subjects as subjects, that is, creatures defined by their ability to know and love. [...] [P]erceiving outer and inner data, attempting to understand and make a judgment about reality, and then loving and living on the basis of this decision are all part of an integrated series of conscious acts. Hence, the word consciousness as employed here is meant to stress that mysticism (as the mystics have insisted) is more than a matter of unusual sensations, but essentially comprises new ways of knowing and loving based on states of awareness in which God becomes present in our inner acts, not as an object to be grasped, but as the direct and transforming center of life."

God is another Subject, another self, the Supreme Self, really - that/Who from which/Whom all things and creatures flow. (Yes, I realize I'm preaching a theology here.) It is important on the one hand to recognize the power that God can have in our lives as individuals, to listen and to experience as we can through grace.

But it is equally important to see other people, and all other entities in creation - from dwindling oil reserves to trees to whales - as selves. Sure, a tree may not be conscious in the same way we are conscious, but it is part of this creation (or evolution - I don't see the difference, except that evolution allows for a much bigger scope) and it deserves our respect. Hell, a tree isn't really conscious at all... which leads me to talk about how because we as humans are conscious, we have a responsibility to care for the rest of creation. As it says in Genesis, we are to be stewards of the earth. I don't know about the translation of the term "dominion over the animals," but something inside me tells me that we are not supposed to consume, consume, consume all the resources without paying attention to the way the rest of the world will be affected by our actions. What is the counter-argument? I guess some Christians focus on the End Times and how we don't need to worry about climate change and depleted resources now because we won't be here much longer.

I guess I'll bring it back to the beginning now. We should truly experience our creation. We shouldn't just judge it or use it as we would any old object (do non-sacred tools even exist?). We *should* (and again I realize I'm preaching) be mindful, receptive, and loving in the way we deal with everything. It's not an easy thing to do, and I'm certainly guilty of thinking selfishly, but despite the impossibility of achieving this goal all the time, I still think it's a worthy one.
Love God (or, to step back, some power or entity bigger than you are).
Love one another. 
Respect our resources.

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