rights were purchased for this cartoon copy…
From Spirit, Time and The Future
2012, The Solstice and the New Age
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 previous imaginations and idealistic hopes for a new spiritually inspired social order linked to the Harmonic Convergence in 1987, we can easily trace this American cultural and religious tendency to earlier forms of Protestantism in North America. Our most noteable example would be 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.
As for the current dire warning about 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 article5 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 ” 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.
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.
From this and other such allied points of reasoning, I would boldly conclude that The Spirit, as the dynamis of God, is a constant, ever present, unfolding reality. As such, it is The Spirit that has the capacity to assist humanity in shaping the understanding of its history, and will positively prepare us for its future. Spirit always provides a light along the path for humanity to read and then to savor our next steps in the salvation story.
However, it is our participation that is needed. It is up to every person to pay attention! It is required of us to learn how to listen, and then how to reverently and responsibly act on Spirit’ behalf. Given our indispensable gift of free will, and the awesome ethical responsibility to use it for the greater good, it becomes our core task to take the Spirit’ message of wholeness, integrity, and salvation seriously.
We are to learn how best to apply those gracious, challenging, and transformative experiences and insights in our lives. Then it is up to each person, reinforced by our churches and spiritual communities, to share these transformative principles broadly among us and across our world culture. From this common knowledge and this shared source of wisdom, we can move consciously towards an inclusive, peaceful, and compassionate future.
Spirit acts as our best personal guide and as our best arbitrator for social renewal. She addresses the most intimate and ultimate of our human and social concerns; As one of her ultimate gifts and graces, She connects us to patterns of meaning and depth like no other force or presence in our lives. Whether we are considering the most intimate of our thoughts or feelings, or if we are contemplating the existence of the universe, these patterns can and do present themselves in compelling ways. These synchronistic connections often go beyond ordinary waking consciousness or out beyond the control of societal reinforced ideas.
So I will continue by providing an overview of some of these foundational thoughts, and then comment on their possible meaning for us today and into the future.
The Age of the Spirit is being avidly and strenuously resisted. It is being blocked by those who wish to stay within their entrenched particular view of theology. It is also being stifled by those who desire to maintain their particular privileged social and monetary priorities that were previously safely defined or elitely preserved.
According to both Jung and De Flores, this means that anyone who is willing to remain satisfied with a regressive view or will be satisfied by a more rudimentary faith if that viewpoint secures their comfort and will somehow deflect our personal anxiety or postpone our moral responsibility. There are many convincing examples of staunch resistance. We can find them within our patriarchal or conservative churches, our exclusionary political structures, our privileged financial and industrial establishments, and so on… . There has been a vast investment in time and money, and there is a prevailing toxic need for assurance and rectitude. This resistance has become so compelling for them that they will have to be dragged ” and screaming” into this new age of perception and possibilities.
This staunch resistance to social change incites the overall cultural dissatisfactions and extends the feelings of injustice across the lines of class and conscience.. Such current social ferment might well signal the beginnings of a greater cultural alchemy that could easily grow stronger and become more incessant in the coming years.
2012 The Great Shift, the Mayans, and the Spirit Filled future
I observe that we live within a creative and gracious chaos. It is our place in time when we can arrogantly pretend to have control or when we can humbly acknowledge the limits of what we can and do control. Reluctantly, our egos have to admit to a larger reality where the timing and the accumulated impact of these environmental events and cultural experiences are often beyond us. Having to accept the larger impinging dimensions and social interactions, brings us to the greater awareness that independence is an enticing illusion.
In the Third Age, we will have to be intentionally and purposefully interdependent. When any of us reflects on the long range impact of our many, complex and conflicted governmental or economic decisions- from distant wars to multinational banks, etc., these remote decisions can affect us deeply. No matter how seemingly removed they may be, as citizens, coworkers, and neighbors, their actions become a crucial part of our shared experience of time together. With grace and courage, we learn to move through our lives in the face of these chaotic and uncontrollable occurrences which can and often do become a significant part of our shared future.
What speaks directly to my inner questions and that can be used as a helpful barometer or measure of these warnings we daily receive through our media, (even to the impending end of our culture in 2012) comes from our Western tradition and the teachings of Jesus about becoming less concerned with dire warnings, rumors, and impending worrisome predictions. We are taught to accept that a part of discipleship is our lifelong task to be diligent and discerning— to be aware and to be prepared, and to responsibly trust in how God orders the world. Then we are to rest in the wise counsel of Scripture, reason, life experience, and The Spirit’ leading. Even with all of our worldly knowledge at our disposal, many parts of our lives can be influenced and determined in ways that are all beyond our control anyway! Each day requires us to live by faith.
The 2012 Debate and Its Interpretive Dilemma
Before I speak further about the cultural and interpersonal possibilities, one has to begrudgingly acknowledge that there are many of these sensational, somewhat dire changes that are currently being predicted to occur. According to some predictions, These planetary and climatic ways will move the poles and change its axis! On the geocosmic scale, IF any of these projected changes was to happen, be they asteroids or earthquakes, the operating reality is that there would be only a slight capability that our current society could deter or effectively counter any of these projected large-scale events or results.
Maybe there is a particular part of the human psyche or the cultural collective that revels in breeding or promoting such alarm and despair, but I have yet to fathom how it serves the advancement and refinement of self or society! It seems that the overall purpose of this kind of literature and this kind of particularly graphic film is to sell books, consume sugar, and raise movie attendance! It is as if the producers of these books and films have a perverse and immoral delight in creating more panic, anxiety, and fear in the general public!
What appears to be so convincing is that is that there is an impressionable portion of our society has been unnecessarily agitated by these unwarranted speculations. These predictions that are based in arcane prophecy- from the obtuse writings of Nostradamus, all the way to the current preoccupation with the Mayan prophecies! Each of these predictive approaches is supported by their own repository of information, which to the undiscerning or the uncritical eye can be taken as fact! Given the exposure that controversial ideas get in our culture, this can result in holding those who are aware of these views in an anxious and suspense-filled curiosity.
When we are overwhelmed by such media attention, rather than it function positively as a call to action, it fosters a reactionary fear and greater shared sense of paralysis. The result can be seen in an obstinate sense of cultural entrenchment into all the ways that are traditional and familiar, no matter how dysfunctional, unequal or divisive.
When this fear driven retreat becomes generalized, we see evidence of more regressive thinking obtain a stronger foothold; Denial, whether it is expressed, politically, economically or religiously can work to effectively blunt feelings of powerlessness or hopelessness. It is clearly the easier strategy for the human ego and the collective consciousness to choose! Why? Because the personal and community virtues that will be necessary for successfully overcoming these problems in our contemporary culture appear to be in tragic short supply! It will take a genuine courage and a deeply held faith to earnestly work through the various challenges that humanity faces! Precious little good comes from any approach that is fear based.
From fear will come aggressive denial. The fact remains that we humans would prefer to feel powerless than to feel responsible for the ethical imbalances in our culture or the ecological crises that we have socially created.
If there is any redeeming value to all these current-day warnings and inflamed emotions surrounding the year 2012, it would be that the onus has shifted somewhat away from the all-too-popular and vapid Biblical based, apocalyptic scenarios that have populated the bookshelves and that have been read so eagerly and avidly!
With the shift to the Mayan, and the Meso-American calendar as the most recent and compelling portent of tribulation, it seems as if the intellectual burden of dealing with the irrational within Christianity has subsided. All those obnoxious books that extrapolate and extol The Book of Revelations as becoming literally true have finally been replaced! Well, that might be wishful thinking… Let’ say they have been replaced temporarily, in our contemporary consciousness, by a new set of cultural worries, or a newly minted projection of demonic alarm and cultural concern!
Nothing our scientists know or no machine we currently possess can safely reverse or reliably cancel the results of earthquakes, asteroids, or even sunspot flares. While we can hold out hope for advances in astrophysics and for ecological engineers that will develop approaches that can forestall any and all of these cataclysmic events, it’ not as likely as reliable or as realistic as we would wishfully admit!
Rather than continue to promote a growing sense of impending doom and further promoting the feelings of socio-cultural helplessness, a shift in perception is necessary. What we have before us is the alchemical opportunity and the ethical responsibility to change the basis for our connection to culture and to one another. Feelings of seperateness, excessive individuality, isolation, or disconnection cannot assist us in our survival! What we need is to change our baseline for culture and connection, for relationships and neighborhoods, towards interdependence and a more cooperative plan for our personal and planetary survival!
However dire and disturbing these predictions about 2012 can appear to be, there is a greater menace to be faced. The greater tragedy and the larger impact would be to experience our society as being bereft of a transformational God, and to admit reluctantly to one another that we are truly without a sustaining, and courageous sense of hope.
Whatever might come to us in the way of shifts and changes, we will need to make a concerted effort to limit any self-inflicted imbalances so that humanity stands a reasonable chance at survival. In support of this conclusion, I will enlist the scientist/priest/mystic Pierre De Chardin. In his essay ” Horizon before the Sunrise,”
” We are sometimes inclined to think the same things are monotonously repeated over and over again in the history of creation. That is because the season is too long by comparison with the brevity of our individual lives, and the transformation too vast and too inward by comparison with our superficial and restricted outlook, for us to see the progress of what is tirelessly taking place in and through all matter and all spirit. Let us believe in revelation, once and again our faithful support in our most human foreboding. Under the commonplace envelope of things and of all our purified and salvaged efforts, a New Earth is being slowly engendered….
We are constantly forgetting that the supernatural is a ferment, a soul, and not a complete and finished organism. Its role is to transform ‘’ but it cannot do so apart from the matter which nature provides it with…. The expectation of heaven cannot remain alive unless it is incarnate.
” What body shall we give to our today? That of a huge and totally human hope. Let us look at the earth around us. What is happening under our eyes within the mass of peoples? What is the cause of this disorder in society, this uneasy agitation, these swellings waves, these whirling and mingling currents, and these turbulent and forcible new impulses? ” It is visibly becoming dimly aware of its shortcomings and it capacities… . It sees the universe as growing luminous like the horizon just before the sunset. It has a sense of premonition and of expectation.”
From Tielhard, I can see the ferment he speaks of in high definition in our world today. What inspires my effort that would agree closely with his visionary ideals is found in the solutions he proposes. They follow the urgings of the Spirit towards cultural interdependence, towards shared regard for the Earth, and for the quality of life for all humankind. These solutions are within our grasp. It is our great and gracious gift to reach out hold one another by the hand and then to fill each other’ hearts with a holy sense of hope.
The survival of our planet awaits our faith-filled actions. To have faith above all fears is what is being called for, and such a call is nothing short of vital and necessary! We fully acknowledge that it is our fear that reacts, recoils, and denies our progress or our steps towards meaningful change. We know that it is the heartfelt impulse of faith that makes us capable of a genuine response that confronts the evils found in denial and inertia. When we muster our will to act compassionately, then we can unify our conscious efforts to overcome selfish beliefs and the contradictions in our behavior and cultural attitudes. When spurred on by a sustaining hope for humanity, we can acknowledge that any enduring sense of pessimism is both a deep personal insult and a profound social Injustice.
We are compelled to promote a living and approachable cosmology, which is a world- view that is fostered by a vital, vigorous spiritual intelligence. I contend that humanity can be taught to how to live an enlightened, ethical, and responsible life within a sacred universe. This redemptive and salvific search for synthesis will be grounded in Myth and can be encouraged by our participation in a spiritual community. A community, church, or gathering etc., that inspires and connects us together within a gracious pattern of coexistence. This hope is what impels me to restate my major premise:
The motivating and vitalizing connection between a revival of our most potent and positive archetypes and the successive advancement of culture and consciousness is the work and purpose of the Holy Spirit within and among us. As this Spirit is willingly shared, applied, and enlivened, She becomes the source of change and the heart-centered hope for our world.