A Gigantic Global Drum Circle
By Ian Lawton www.christ-community.net
“If you look at the science that describes what is happening on earth today and aren’t pessimistic, you don’t have the current data. If you meet the people in this unnamed movement and aren’t optimistic, you haven’t got a heart.”
— Paul Hawken “Blessed Unrest: How the Largest Movement in the World Came into Being and Why No One Saw It Coming”
There is a vitality, an enlivening energy that occurs when your vision manifests in action. Because you are the only one of you that has ever existed and ever will exist, this action is unique and essential to the evolution of Life. If you stay awake to this vital energy, and keep the channels of awareness open, you have realized the greatest success that a person can achieve. Don’t get me wrong. It’s rarely neat and tidy. It’s not always satisfying. In fact there is usually a divine dissatisfaction about following your bliss. It is this blessed unrest that raises your life above the steady hum of the daily grind and makes your life work exceptional.
It’s the myth of the inescapable daily grind that so easily locks us in a “scarcity” mindset. We eat every meal as if it’s our last, then wonder why the healthy abundance of the earth is replaced by an unhealthy abundance of body fatigue. We live in fear of terrorists and fundamentalists, play out this fear as aggression, then wonder why fundamentalism increases in number and in sprit. We hang on to ancient religious beliefs as if God is watching our every move, then wonder why we live in guilt.
Christianity has generally operated according to a scarcity mindset. It has suggested that humanity is born in sin, which I guess means that our inhumanity and shameful lack of stewardship of earth’s resources is inevitable. In any case the sin that was foisted upon us from the beginning must be atoned by the sacrifice of a perfectly innocent, suffering servant. The sin is atoned in order to guarantee some future bliss in some other place, meaning that the sin soaked life we live in this world scarcely matters either way.
The most public Christian voice is still basically an otherworldly, guilt ridden message. There doesn’t seem much reason for optimism. Or is there?
Paul Hawken has outlined clear grounds for optimism. He has mapped the emergence of a new global movement; abundantly large in number and abundantly diverse in spirit. He says it is the largest movement in the world and yet no one announced its arrival nor knows where it came from. He describes it as “humanity’s immune response to ideologies”, and I want to add that it is a cleansing of the scarcity mindset. This movement, “blessed unrest” has no single leader and no single orthodoxy. Its focus is universal. As Paul says, “a male vertebrate is not in charge” of the movement.
Progressive Christianity is at home in the “Blessed Unrest” consortium. It is a movement that leaves behind scarcity, and seeks abundant sufficiency. Celebrating all people as divine expressions, shattering religious, gender, class, race and sexuality boundaries that divide, Progressive Christianity realizes the wonder and miracle of Life, empowers people to own and manifest their divine dissatisfaction, and lives out a blessed unrest in eco- justice and social justice activism.
Progressive Christianity finds inspiration in the life of Jesus, and the Hebrew Prophets, who manifested their own blessed unrest several thousand years ago. The Jesus movement also emerged as if from nowhere, had no orthodoxy and sought a classless, genderless, egalitarianism that would bring healing and peace to the world. It was only in later centuries that Christianity was turned into an ideology built around scarcity and guilt.
The centuries since then have revealed a line of inspirational radicals who “caught” the blessed unrest of the Jesus movement- these are the forebears of the Progressive Christianity movement; the mystics who knew an experience of divine connectedness, the activists who knew that they were “God’s hands” in the world; Hildegard of Bingen, Meister Eckhart, St Francis of Assisi, Galileo Galilei, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, John Shelby Spong, Karen Armstrong. These heroes weren’t afraid to buck the system, because they saw the writing on the wall for the institution and knew that the spirit of the movement would thrive beyond the narrow confines of the institution.
Progressive Christian groups have many partners in the Blessed Unrest movement, some religious, many not. Our religious similarities and differences are not what we notice. Our commonality is that we all share a restless desire for greater harmony in the world, and planetary healing. One such partner is a kindred spirit in the progressive Islamic movement, Tariq Ramadan, known as the Muslim Martin Luther King.
When looking at Christianity as institution, there is every reason for pessimism. Dawkins, Harris and Hitchens are right. Belief in belief is mindless, many of the church’s forms are anachronistic and indifference to justice issues is shameful. However when looking at the individuals and groups that make up progressive spiritual communities, there is only reason for optimism. People everywhere are claiming power to think freely, and respond to the world boldly. Communities such as ours don’t feel any need to conform to any orthodoxy or power relationships. Instead we rest in the blessed unrest of a burgeoning global consciousness of which we are a part. We march to the beat of our own drum, and yet are continually surprised to find ourselves participants in a wide and harmonious global drum circle.