Introduction: A New Pentecost Awaits
The Holy Spirit has within her presence and potentials, a restless, powerful, and urgent expectation of continually giving birth to a new reality. This new Spirit-infused reality is both inclusive and paradoxical; Its effects are both individual and social, personal and cultural. The impulses and directives once they are actively acknowledged and released can be experienced as either gracious or tense. These urgings can be genuinely inspiring, and once they are felt, are life changing and undeniable.
At times, the release or re-birthing of these energies and principles can appear dramatic and challenging in its chaotic, alchemical, and transformative demands. As Spirit, the omnipresent energies and gracious expressions of God can be universally experienced. Succinctly, She can best be experienced and understood as the source of vitality, wisdom, and compassion. However, while available to all, most often it is the willing and the receptive who acknowledge this truth most readily. They are the more open and vulnerable to sensing and to experiencing God’s omnipresence as being a sustaining and loving reality that lives within and among us.
The new Millennia has dawned, but it has not yet become a conscious and widely acknowledged part of our dominant culture. The activity of The Spirit has not been perceived widely in our prevailing religious church practices. She has not been given serious regard in our current theological and liturgical understandings. It is also true that tracking carefully the turns of time and calendars does not guarantee the Spirit’s appearance as a growth in awareness or an advance in consciousness. While it remains true that the greater manifestations of the Spirit are continually available, yet most often they will lie latently within time or go ignored and unused in our lives.
Despite the intense and unsettling struggle we can easily witness all around us, we need not give up hope. When we consider the continual wrestling we encounter with the imposing ethically dark forces of human whim and will, the entrenchment within resistant and powerful patriarchal systems and as condoned by cultural inertia, we are tempted by feelings of resignation. However, by looking deeper, and searching heartfully, we can find that we are continually supported by those glimpses of increasing awareness. Our sense of hope can be restored by acknowledging the increase in spiritual investigations, and by our willingness to actively question and to reverently wonder. In that searching, and by that willingness, we promote a more constant access to supernal qualities of light, hope, and truth.
The evidence for establishing a new consciousness is becoming more available and more widely recognized in contemporary culture. If it is true that a new awareness is dawning, then as more people consciously attune their lives and actions to its insights and demands, it will certainly become progressively better known. Across the wide spectrum of human thought and spiritual practice, we can be assured that this new manifestation of Spirit will be revealed and Spirit will invite and extend Her influences into every home, and into every heart.
The Spirit is brooding over the world (Deuteronomy 32), and She is ready to hatch her offspring— the women and men of God who will fully recognize her, will see the Spirit as a tripartite source: First, as a world creating, Spirit acts as our indwelling vital and dynamic presence; Second, as a sustaining source for a shared relational wisdom and social experience; Third or lastly, as an ethical imperative for meaningful social reform and for ecological repair/transformation.
When individuals invite these energies and heed the influences of the Spirit, they open themselves to those life- transformative explorations and move consciously towards a greater commitment to pneumatic living or participating in a Spirit centered life.
To the degree that this Spirit’s invitation is welcomed, affirmed, and embodied, there will be an increase in compassionate awareness. This inbreaking spiritual energy will broaden and deepen our social conscience as well as enliven our spiritual imagination. From our receptivity, we can reinforce our insights personally and then work together to courageously transform them into necessary and ethical actions. The result will be an alchemical and gracious reordering of spiritual perceptions and baseline ethical realities. This realignment to Spirit will work collectively to foster a large scale cultural re-birthing- bringing forth a broader, and deeper comprehension of the Spiritual dimensions of our daily human existence.
How this Spirit centered effects are to manifest themselves, or how they will become more widely known and then more easily assimilated is not yet fully clear. What we can witness and affirm is that the cracks in our world’s icy indifference, in our rampant Western egotism, and all the deep veined fissures of cultural isolation that previously divided humanity from itself, are cracking open more readily than the polar ice caps! The indifference and isolation are giving way to the need for developing more cultural interdependence. Such compassionate cooperation will be a hallmark of this new age or coming consciousness. Because of the increasing cultural disillusionment that we can see running blatantly throughout our society, a tipping point or a crisis point is rapidly becoming necessary. Perhaps we can say, as a supernal counterbalance or as a gracious response to them, Spirit and all her ameliorative effects will be brought closer and become more available to our daily social awareness.
One author, Donald Gelpi,2 puts it in these words:
“A contemporary pneumatology faces then a formidable task. In order to counteract those forces that stifle Spirit awareness, it must prophetically challenge individuals and communities to rend their hearts and open themselves to the illumination of the Spirit.”
It is our crisis and our opportunity, our social demands and our soulful urgings that will move us into confronting this formidable task. One of the intentions of this book is to contribute to the background information and to the greater understanding of these powerful and dynamic forces. It is my goal to begin to outline how the Spirit works, and to clearly acknowledge the cultural changes that would be necessary to usher in a genuine Age of the Spirit.
Increasingly over the recent decades, our contemporary culture has written about the dramatic and idealistic possibilities of cultural change. Accordingly to current forecasts, these changes are thought to commence or to correspond to the date and time that is outlined in the Meso-American Mayan calendar. The time when such culturally predictive signs and expected wonders will seemingly occur will be on December 21, 2012. Now it is important to state that this wish for change or cultural transformation is not new! Similar to the recent, vain imaginations and hopes for a new spiritually inspired the social order linked to the Harmonic Convergence in 1987. (And even without appealing the wildly speculative and obtuse claims of the latest group of Nostradamus interpreters) We can easily see this American cultural and religious tendency dating as far back in Protestantism in North America and most notably with the Millerites3 in 1834. They were the religious sect who assembled on a New York Mountain-top; It seemed as if there was an expectation of calamity or collapse, of some impending doom, accompanied by celestial catastrophes, and at the end of such tribulation, there would be some arcane but nonetheless some Scripturally predicted and religiously assured form of divine deliverance! Each century, or so it seems, arrives with its own version of a Second Coming! These largely erroneous predictions abound in Western Millennial literature, and are wrapped up in the personal revelations of religious leaders who are “enraptured” 4 with their own world-view! Somehow, they are able to cajole and convince their followers into believing in its imminent appearing! Modern media has often been a willing, uncritical, and enthusiastic ally to these controversial and often unfounded assertions.
Without going into an extensive Biblical exegesis, or a rigorous religious examination of comparative texts, let me state clearly that there are no dangerous religious books per se, only dangerous interpretations. Those who lack a historical, and most importantly, an imaginative and metaphorical understanding of Scripture, are primarily to blame for being the source of such fear and apprehension! Those who would take a literal or fundamentalist approach to any text are the same ones who are most prone to insult and alarm. These same panicked individuals or the same fear fueled groups, are the ones who are the most likely to proclaim their distress to others. There is an uncanny and unfathomable desire to sound the alarm- particularly when the warnings are based on their own version of all the disastrous effects that are to come!
As for those dire warnings that created such alarm and panic in 2012, even the Mayans themselves are at odds with the current rash of books and predictions that offer dramatic warnings and portents of doom. As the long, extended article 5 cited in the end notes of this paper names it, our Western Christian understandings of the religious life, its examples and archetypes have been “exhausted.” This observation is one of my key concerns. Our Western religious language has been stripped of its power to proclaim dynamic and transformative messages. Because of this accepted infirmity, and the inability for conventional approaches to Western spirituality to inspire our culture, as I see it, the time is ready, even overripe, for a “New Pentecost” among us….
It is my contention that these changes are not literally connected to a specific time or place; they are not limited to a specific date in calendar or hour of clock time. When we are dealing with all the dire and scary predictions that we have been popularly given, first we have to make objective and scientific allowances for those uncontrollable events such as shifts in the tectonic plates that cause earthquakes, etc. That should quell some of more fantastic fears based on some supernatural punishment or fear. Next, comes the humble and honest admission that there are some events and changes that remain well beyond our human control. This humility and honesty can encourage the responsible and ethical imperative to learn how to cooperate, and to learn how best to prepare ourselves to respond to these cataclysmic events as effectively and as compassionately as we can.
However, there is a larger, more harsh admission to be made: Most, if not all of the social crises and environmental dilemmas we now face are humanly authored, and they are culturally created. These systemic imbalances and the shifts in our planet’s ecological extremes are primarily perpetuated by our dominant myopic social priorities. It is a case where our ethics controls our climate, and that our weather imbalances are being directed by our secular and monetary values.
On the positive and transformative side, Spirit is manifest whenever the heart is warmed and whenever the will is informed. I believe that our lives can be activated to receive the spiritual impulses of grace and change, and then we can, as a result of that leavening, act to make those effects evident in our lives. From our individual transformations, we can come together and apply it as a social force within our culture.
The aim of this book is to be an updated, expanded consideration of the depth and dimensions of the Holy Spirit. It will offer new perspectives without losing sight of its original, linguistic definitions and will recount some of the wider understandings that are to be found within our Western Judeo-Christian heritage. This concern for keeping a consistent dialogue with theology, however, is not a defensive, turgid, or a brittle one. It will align itself with a progressive working definition from both theological research and the writings of depth psychology that holds to a more inclusive and universal understanding. As such, it freely goes beyond the traditional dogmatic definitions and any of the narrowly accepted orthodox scope of language and its conforming beliefs. Consequently, the ideas expressed will be along a line of thoughtful consideration that never loses touch with its foundational integrity. As an inclusive theological overview, this research affirms that the Spirit always has been and will remain an omnipresent correspondent with every archetype that affirms and honors her place, her possibilities, and her potentials.