The Gospel Also Belongs to Those Outside The Church

Most of the people not in the church don’t believe a word of what the church has to say. This erosion of the church’s viability has been going on at an ever accelerating rate since World War 2. Now in this era of technological expansion and interconnectedness there appears less space for the church in people’s minds or lives. That may not apply to Jesus of Nazareth’s message. Maybe his teaching is just what we need, after all the church teaches this is all His world.

Most doctrine offered by the church is suspect. Formed by Neo-Platonist thinking, medieval superstition and the churches’ need to project power, control and hold a monopoly of the truth, the church, including every denomination speaks to a smaller percentage of the population every decade. However, its power and political control tempts churches into unholy alliances which further corrupt the so called people of God. An Example of this is the number of Christians who support a lying, philandering, manipulative, fraudulent human being as President because he promises them he will support an attack on Women’s rights to control their own bodies. These same Christians will turn a blind eye to the needs of the country to gain an advantage for their ideology.

The church has for the last 2,000 years turned out some extraordinary people. Members of the church, (of any denomination) have built schools, hospitals, universities and so much more. The History of the church is full of great people and great works. Maybe in this century, the church will be called upon to once more do great things, but is it ready to face the issues?

Now in this 21st Century the human race is up against its own end times. The population has topped 7 billion, climate is changing world wide, masses of people are on the move seeking relief from disastrous environments of one kind or another, our population is more susceptible to new diseases, and from our study of evolutionary history we know we are at a tipping point. Life on this planet could blink out. That would not be the end of creation, for other worlds, other planets and other species will go on. None of us will be there. We cannot get there to those distant worlds, despite the sci-fi  genre’s assertion such a thing was possible. At best no more than a dozen or so could escape the gravity of our world and risk their future in the emptiness of space. The rest of us have to make this planet work for everyone. There is no alternative. We all have a massive job to do.

The teaching of Jesus of Nazareth could be our salvation, not in the church’s meaning of the word, but by re-thinking how we  belong, and how each of us as individuals have a destiny, a purpose of becoming. The Red Sock Ministry wants to grasp the essential truth of Jesus of Nazareth’s teaching, and make it the property of those outside the church.  It may be our collective best bet.  One thing I do know is if you study Jesus’ teaching as found in the gospels it will change you.  You will have found a window into the heart of the divine whether you are inside the church or outside.

Modernism and Postmodernism

Modernism and postmodernism are buzz words bandied about by people trying to describe what has happened and what is happening within our culture. Few people know what they mean by either term, but at a visceral level, many recognize that massive shifts have happened, and ground has shifted under our feet.

For me, modernism ranged from the middle of the nineteenth century till the sixties. Born out of the freedom granted by scientific explorations, every opinion held, every position or belief lived by, and every rule or law should have their basis in rational thought, and be provable. Class, race, and power were all challenged. Human thought was released from the constraints imposed by superstition, religious beliefs, gross ignorance and the assumptions of centuries. We came to believe informed decisions would, therefore, be made based on reason. The natural goodness of people would prevail and there would evolve a new world order of rational interdependence. Such organizations as the United Nations represent that dream. Theories about how to bring up children, liberalization of politics and social mores followed.

The dark side of modernism has been that the old notions of mankind born out of centuries of experience were jettisoned. Evil was not part of modern thought and could be excused on various grounds. Not only could individuals make mistakes but whole groups of people could with the best intentions turn out to be thoroughly wrong. Over and above this capacity to err, there has been demonstrated time and again the presence and operation of evil within our world. The modernist years of the last century were the most bloody and violent of any century ever, and yet we continued to ignore what our experience should have taught us about the nature of human kind. The concept of evil just did not fit with the rational assumptions of the modernist mind.

As its name suggests postmodernism has grown out of modernism and is the consequence of modernism.

Here are a few of the notions behind the word: Every individual has a right to their own truth. One person’s view is as good as the next person’s. Everyone has access to enormous amounts of information and can interpret it as they wish. Ethical behavior is the responsibility of the individual and is his or her way of self-expression, so long as there is no harm to anyone else in the immediate vicinity. Emotions define the person and justify actions

The dark side of post modernism has been the following: Destruction of our sense of commonwealth, the individual’s sense of responsibility for the whole or rest of society; Tragic regression to pre-modernist thought, most widely seen in reactionary fundamentalist ideologies; gross ignorance of large sections of our population; the demise of a shared notion of truth; dumbing down of values and standards to meaningless levels.

The latter may be a result of our good intentions as we have struggled to integrate new peoples into a multi-cultural society.

The absence of an agreed standard of truth has meant that information can be manipulated. The rise of the spin-doctor as a most important political figure speaks oceans about this change. In politics everything is spun, actuality is denied, actions excused on the grounds that there are other ways of looking at everything. Thus the lie has become the mode of repression by our political talking heads.

Ideology has replaced thinking creatively and we are required to join camps and resist those who do not agree with us.

Recovering from postmodernism is our challenge. As individuals, we need to belong with others and have their well-being be our concern. We need to believe there is something called truth and have a thirst for learning. Together we need to search for truth, sharing our views and listening with respect to the questions and thoughts of others. The most profound departure from postmodernism may be when we learn to be at peace in the face of mystery, without the need to explain or integrate the mystery into our previously held opinions and ideology. This may, therefore, mean we finally center ourselves on the experience of our spiritual well-being so that our ravaged souls can be healed. Thereby we might know peace.

Maybe the next era will be that of faith, (not to be confused with belief).