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“This is the Dawning of the Age of Aquarius”

Looking from the Past to an Emerging Future

 

My thesis is that the dictates of history, our contemporary experience, and the demands of the future, tell us that the age of Christianity, and indeed all religions, is over, and a new grounding myth is showing glimpses of emerging. A new age is dawning.

Something momentous is happening.

Christianity is Fading

The most obvious happening in the religious sphere is the steady decline in membership and attendance we have witnessed since the 1960s. This has happened in all the mainline churches, and includes other religions in the Western context. People have voted with their feet and finances and have left churches struggling and dying. In a three-point United Church Pastoral Charge that I served in the 1960ies, two of the churches have disappeared and the third is a family dwelling.

Much effort has gone into “modernizing” the church; music, technology, and theology. Worship Services are no longer the serious somber affairs of my childhood. Now you can come with your coffee in informal attire and chit-chat with those around you. However, we must note that even with all our efforts we have not stopped the outflow. The numbers continue to disappear. The Christian message, and religion in general, even in its liberal, modernized, version, fails to grasp the modern mind as something fundamental to life. Here and there there are flashes of light, but the general trend is still downward.

The church is now on palliative care. It will require decades or even generations of attentive and compassionate attention to both people and properties. In the meantime, it will continue to do much good work and be a caring and compassionate community for those who attend. However, at least some of us must cease our efforts at resuscitation and attune our hearts, minds, and souls to sense and articulate what is evolving. Our tradition believes in death and resurrection, and that is what is now happening.

The Evolving of History

Our present situation need not come as a surprise. Everything evolves out of what has gone before. A careful, or even casual, reading of history would clue us into what is happening in our time. As Richard Rubenstein made clear in The Cunning of History, the evolving story of humanity has brought us to this place. With time and space, we could trace the story of an evolving universe back 13.7 billion years to the so-called Big Bang. It is amazing to contemplate that galaxies, stars, supernovae, black holes, and all the mysteries of the universe, have evolved a reflective conscious humanity. We know not where else in the universe such consciousness may have appeared, but it is the human story that is our immediate concern.

According to Wikipedia, “Anatomically modern humans appeared in Africa approximately 300,000 years ago.” The story of their evolving from apes and human-like creatures prior to that time is long and complex. At some point the beginnings of self- awareness appeared. We read a mythic version in the biblical story of The Garden of Eden, and Eve taking the first step into consciousness by eating the forbidden fruit (Genesis 3).

I will skip ahead to around 4,000 years ago and the beginning of some connection with the history of the Judeo/Christian tradition; the time of Abraham and Sarah. To quickly trace the evolution of human history I will use Astrological ages. Whatever the exact dates, and whatever the actual influence on humanity, the ages form a good template, which works for me. And I am largely copying Carl Jung as he outlines history in, Aion: Researches into the Phenomenology of the Self.

Jung notes not only the Astrological ages, Aries, Pisces, Aquarius, but also the milenial times and the 500 year intervals. Every 500 years, give or take, introduces a new step in the evolution of human consciousness. I will point to a few persons, events and insights along the way.

From Abraham and Sarah

Abraham and Sarah introduced the age of Aries, the first age in the astrological circle. They are no doubt mythic figures, but they are symbols of the time. Because of the influx of tribes from the north they journeyed from Ur of the Chaldees to Judea. They brought to humanity the idea of purpose. “And by your offspring shall all the nations of the earth gain blessing for themselves, because you have obeyed my voice” (Genesis 22:18, NRSV); a major step in the journey to becoming fully human.

Next appears Moses, a hundred or more years late. Having found themselves as slaves in Egypt, Moses brought the idea of freedom and, along with Hammurabi, the rule of law

(The Ten Commandments, Exodus 20). Freedom and law go hand in hand. To live as an independent community you must have some commonly accepted standards and rules. An important step in consciousness.

At around 1000 BCE Kind David stands as the ideal king. Administration may sound rather dull, but to have a good community you must have good leadership and good administration. King David is a symbol of both.

Then at about 500 BCE there appeared the brilliant prophet of the Exile, Deutro/Isaiah (Isaiah 40-55). In one chapter (40) he transformed the tribal god Yahweh into a universal, all powerful, theistic, deity. We are now saying farewell to Theism, but let us not underestimate its value for that time, and for the next two thousand or more years. For a pre-scientific age, it has provided a grounding myth for Jews, Christians, and Muslims.

To continue with this Exilic prophet. In his/her closing chapter (55), the author presents the most powerful invitation in the Bible (Ho, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters [of life]; and you that have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price (Isaiah 55:1, NRSV). The author then poses the questions that most of us must face at one time or many. “Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy?” (Isaiah 55:2), The invitation and question are still with us.

The writer then moves on to present a vision of a purposeful universe. “So shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and succeed in the thing for which I sent it (Isaiah 55:11). Simple translation; the Universe has a purpose, which will be accomplished. This affirmation that the Universe is not neutral can be a grounding myth for our time; but more on that later. [Pardon my being carried away by this profound Exilic prophet. Next to John of Patmos and Revelation I see him/her as the most profound writer in the Bible, and I haven’t even mention the “suffering servant”.]

Jesus and the Age of Pisces

On to Jesus and the age of Pisces. On the one hand Jesus ended the age or Aries by fulfilling the promise to Abraham to be a blessing and on the other hand stands as a model for the age of Pisces.

“Pisces are very friendly and often find themselves in company of very different people. They are selfless and always willing to help others, a very fine intent for as long as they don’t expect anything much in return. People born with their Sun in Pisces have an intuitive understanding of the life cycle and form an incredible emotional relationship with other humans on the basis of natural order and senses guiding them” (the Internet).

This quote describes Jesus as well as the age. Since Jesus stands as the model for the age of Pisces, we can look to him to see what the vision of the age was. Jesus came proclaiming, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news” (Mark 1:15, NRSV) The Kingdom of God, as opposed to the Kingdom of Rome, represents love as a way of life rather than the rule of power. And love has a broad meaning; fullness of life, caring, compassion, and all that makes life whole.

The primacy of love is like “a treasure hidden in a field” or “a pearl of Great Price” (Matthew 13:44-45). It is something of great value and we are to do all in our power to possess it. We are to seek love, the wholeness of life, with all the energy of our lives. In other words, we are to become the best, the most whole, mature, and conscious people we can be. “Seek first the Kingdom of God, … and all these things will be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33). Seek love, purpose, quality of life, consciousness, and the fulness of life will be yours. This is the grounding purpose of our lives, rather than money, power, pleasure, sex, or whatever.

Jesus’ life was a model of inclusion, wholeness, integrity, and compassion, as he lived his particular calling. However, the Kingdom of Power put him to death.

The symbol of Pisces is two fish swimming opposite to one another, signifying the tensions met in living a full and purposeful life. Again, Jesus stands as a model for the age. The cross stands as a symbol that true living can come at a cost, even the ultimate cost. The Pisces age certainly has witnessed many fulfilling that cost, often as the dark side of Christianity. The abiding tension between love and power rages on.

The Tension Begins

In 312 CE Emperor Constantine, a bit early for the 500-year mark, was preparing for a great battle when he and his “army saw a great cross in the sky. Underneath were written the Greek words en toutoi nika, ‘In this sign, conquer’” (The Internet). Thus he was converted to Christianity, and the church became the Holy Roman Empire. By taking on the hierarchical and patriarchal structure of the Empire, the church, in its organization and administration, became diametrically opposite to Jesus and seeking the kingdom of love. The person and teaching of Jesus could not be hidden and remains as a church within a church. Love and power were, and are, a tension within the Catholic church.

“The theologian responsible for bringing reality and depth to the faith was Augustine (354-430 CE). Even as Constantine brought order to the Church through political power, Augustine, a few years later, brought structure and depth to the theological understanding of the time” (The Bible Beyond Religion, Don Murray, p 250.) He enabled the church to carry its intrinsic tension in a positive way, if that is possible.

The Millennium

The years around 1000 CE were tumultuous and confusing. The best remembered events are the Crusades, bent on ousting the Muslims from Jerusalem. They were a colossal failure. However, the positive side-affect was to bring the ancient Greek wisdom back to the West. That was a spark that ended the “dark ages” and began the transformation of the West.

Some years later, Thomas of Aquinas; 1225 – 1274, was the theologian who made sense of both Christianity and the age. He wrote the Summa Theologiae, a twelve volume summation of Christianity, probably the most comprehensive ever written. By seeing the two branches of truth as Natural Theology and Spiritual Theology he helped make possible a renewed and focused exploration of the natural world. A new age was dawning.

Science and Reason Appear

The last 500 years have completed the age of Pisces and laid the foundation for the coming age of Aquarius. I will pay I bit more attention to these years.

“Galileo, 1564 – 1642, has been called the ‘father’ of observational astronomy, modern physics, the scientific method, and modern science” (Wikipedia). He took seriously the awakening urge to study nature, the stars, and all things involving the natural world. He stands as a symbol of the founding of the scientific age. The church objected. “He was tried by the Inquisition, found ‘vehemently suspect of heresy’, and forced to recant. He spent the rest of his life under house arrest” (Wikipedia).

Martin Luther (1483 – 1546) was the theologian of the age. He was not really into the scientific awakening but did have the inner independence to confront the questionable practices of the Catholic church. By so doing he undermined the authoritative voice of the church; “the just shall live by faith”, not by the voice of Rome. By so doing he touched a widespread resentment and began the Protestant Reformation. He freed the church from the grip of Rome so that in future generations the methods of modern scholarship could be used to study the Bible and Christianity.

From Galileo on there were intimations that Christianity was dying. Isaac Newton, (1642 – 1726/27), brought scientific rationality to a certain fullness. He formulated the laws of physics that govern the movements of material objects. Although there is now another level of understanding, his laws still govern our everyday activities. You had better be aware of them when rounding a corner in a motor vehicle. There was now a way of understanding reality that was independent of religion. The supernatural was being pushed to one side and reason was taking over.

Reason so took over the Western mind that in the time of Napoleon (1800), Notre Dame Cathedral became a Temple of Reason. It did not last long but expressed the tenor of the age. The tension between science and religion was fully alive.

At about this time that the Bible began to be studied with the methods of modern scholarship. It was examined with the same techniques as any other ancient document. This undermined it as a supernatural, purely religious, book. No longer did liberal Christianity believe in virgin births or physical resurrections.

Then Darwin shook the foundations of religion by publishing The Origin of Species (1859). Humanity was not an independent creation, a species apart, but an integral part of nature. Darwin had observed that humanity had evolved from earlier life forms, as did all of life. In 1870 the Catholic church responded by making the infallibility of the Pope official. Around 1900 the Protestants did so by affirming an infallible book. These reactions to Darwin make no rational sense, but continue on as fundamentalist Christianity, and still the official doctrine of the Catholic Church.

The Poet Knows

What this meant for Christianity began to stir in the soul and mind of the poet, Matthew Arnold. In 1851, a few years before Darwin published his Origin of Species, he, on his honeymoon in Dover, began giving voice to the state of Christianity.

The Sea of Faith
Was once, too, at the full, …..
But now I only hear
Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar. (From Dover Beach).

Over one hundred fifty years ago, Arnold, with his poetic sensibility, could feel and give voice to what was happening in the culture.

Friedrich Nietzsche, in the 1880s, would bluntly affirm, “ ‘God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him.’ The phrase first appeared in The Gay Science (1882), and later in Thus Spoke Zarathustra.” (Wikipedia).

The church, however, withdrew into itself and sought to reaffirm the strength and dignity of the traditional story. Karl Barth (1886-1968) was the theologian of note. His two editions of Epistle to the Romans, and his thirteen-volume Church Dogmatics, represent a grand theological edifice. Some might consider him to be the theologian of the age. However, his was the last great statement of a Christianity that was dying.

Another Poet

Even while Barth was publishing his Epistle to the Romans, William Butler Yeats was pondering The Second Coming (1921).

Surely some revelation is at hand; Surely the Second Coming is at hand. And what rough beast, its hour come round at last, Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

Again, the sensibility of a poet tells Yeats that something is stirring. Something new is struggling to be born. One hundred years later we may be beginning to see it.

The Bonhoeffer Challenge

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, 1906 – 1945, was a renowned theologian, teacher, and anti-Nazi resistor. In April 1943 he was imprisoned because of his involvement in a plot to assassinate Hitler. On April 8, 1945, he was hanged. Earlier he had written, “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.” For him, it became literally true.

Almost a year earlier, on April 30th, 1944, he wrote a letter to his friend Eberhard Bethge. In one paragraph and one line he changed the face of theology. “You would be surprised and perhaps disturbed if you knew how my ideas on theology are taking shape… The thing that keeps coming back to me is, what is Christianity, and indeed what is Christ, for us today?… We are proceeding toward a time of no religion at all….. Our whole nineteen-hundred-year-old preaching and theology rests upon the ‘religious premise’… But if one day it becomes apparent that this a priori ‘premise’ simply does not exist …what does that mean for Christianity… It means that the linchpin is removed from the whole structure of our Christianity to date” (Emphasis mine).

The church remained blissfully unaware of Bonhoeffer’s words until the death-of-God movement of the 1960s. To the few who became aware that the “religious premise”, the supernatural, other-worldly, all-powerful God-up-there, was gone, Bonhoeffer’s words rang true. He had posed the situation and asked the questions that became alive and real in the 1960s. The church could not, and still cannot, handle such a devastating thought. It was quickly swept under the rug, where it largely remains. However, it did briefly appear and remains the elephant in the room that is getting harder to ignore.

A Millennial Transformation

The death-of-God movement was but a minor part of the great 1960s transformation of all aspects of culture and tradition. It was a time when everything traditional was questioned, and the hippies burst forth in full presence. It was a millennial upheaval, a time that marked an old age dying and a new age dawning. It was “the dawning of the Age of Aquarius.”

Within all that went on in those tumultuous days the Woodstock Festival stands out as a symbol of “The dawning of the Age of Aquarius”. “The Woodstock Music and Art Fair, commonly referred to simply as Woodstock, was a music festival held August 15–18,

1969, on Max Yasgur’s dairy farm in Bethel, New York, 40 miles (65 km) southwest of the town of Woodstock. Billed as ‘an Aquarian Exposition: 3 Days of Peace & Music’ and alternatively referred to as the Woodstock Rock Festival, it attracted an audience of more than 400,000. Thirty-two acts performed outdoors despite sporadic rain” (Wikipedia).

The 5th Dimension had announced that “It is the Dawning of the Age of Aquarius”. Bob Dylan put flesh on the bones.

Come writers and critics… Come senators, congressmen… Come mothers and fathers Throughout the land
And don’t criticize
What you can’t understand
Your sons and your daughters Are beyond your command Your old road is rapidly agin’ Please get out of the new one
If you can’t lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin’

A year later Canada had its own Woodstock, the Strawberry Fields Festival. After many problems securing a location, it happened in Bomanville, Ont. where 100,000 people met for a three day celebration. “It was not only a major multi day event of ‘love, sun and sound,’ but a triumph of counter culture over squares and governments” (Wikipidea).

Only oldies (over 70) like me can remember those tumultuous years as a lived experience. I fear it has receded to the back of our cultural memory. We fail to see it as the major reformation which, in my opinion, it was. .

Pisces Fades

So the age of Pisces is coming to an end. Although there may be a moment that symbolizes the transition, the actual transformation will continue over the generations. No age completely fulfills its promise, but progress has been made. Good things have been accomplished. But we also inherit a grim dark side.

The Struggle of Pisces

With the death of Jesus, Pisces began with the defeat of the vision of the age. That has been much of the story for the whole of the age. The two opposing fish of the Pisces symbol have been played out over the generations by the struggle between power and love. However, through it all, there was a growing awareness of the importance and inner freedom of the individual. In the parable of the Prodigal Son there is a phrase, in the KJV, “and he came to himself.” The Pisces age was a time when more and more people “came to themselves”. They knew that they were free, independent, people. God was less and less involved. Individual persons and their relationships were seen as the heart of life. Shakespeare’s plays are among the first to spell out the drama with little reference to God. In the last 500 years, God gradually disappeared from the scene and we are left to care for ourselves and our world. It’s not “He has the whole world in His hands”, it is “We have the whole world in our hands”. I just read a quote in the newspaper, “the earth has no passengers, only workers”. The future depends on us.

Science has come to rule our thinking. And science has made enormous gains. The technology resulting from exploring and understanding how things operate has given much of the world a standard of living that the pre-scientific age could not even imagine. The developments in transportation and communication have given us one world. We are one human family, whether we like it or not.

The dark side is that with the domination of science we have lost our sense of history and purpose. There is such a thing as living too much in the ‘now’. With the fading of religion we have lost our grounding myth. The result is that we live for narrow and selfish goals and are slow to learn how to live in the world that technology has thrust upon us. We forget that we are of the earth and responsible to it. We forget that our neighbour is, as the parable of the Good Samaritan says, the person, group, nationality, sexual orientation, skin colour, that is anathema to us; an equal and important member of the human community.

The United States was founded and has evolved as the epitome of a nation that has established its freedom and independence, both as a nation and as individual citizens. At some level it is the fulfillment of the Pisces vision. It has brought much good as a beacon of freedom and democracy to the world. The dark side appears in many people seemingly holding personal freedom without the necessary accompanying responsibility. “The right to bear arms” has become culturally ingrained and results in mass shootings, and an attitude that fails to see beyond the individual to the welfare of the community.

Pisces began in a world dominated by power, brutality, and rule by force. There is still plenty of this approach around. However, the world has been humanized. The freedom, integrity, and dignity of the individual is widely recognized, especially in liberal democracies. The dark side threatens our continued existence, but there are powerful forces at work pushing toward the Aquarius vision. More later.

From Pisces to Aquarius

Two paradigm-changing thinkers of the twentieth century have at once fulfilled the goal of Pisces and laid the foundation for Aquarius; Albert Einstein (1879 – 1955), and Carl Jung (1875 – 1961).

Einstein is universally recognized as the physicist of the century who opened the door to a new level of understanding in cosmology and quantum physics. He brought us from the simple and ordered world of Newtonian theory to the wonder and mystery of the quantum world. Great minds followed, and some are now saying that consciousness is necessary to make sense of quantum theory. Does reality exist only in potential if there is no consciousness there to observe it? “Objective Reality May Not Exist at All, Quantum Physicists Say” (news headline, June 30, 2022).

With all the developments in cosmology, and the powerful telescopes that have opened to us to the vastness and wonder of the universe, we are back to the first glimmer of consciousness and wondering what the heavens are all about. A new sense of awe is awakened in us, an awareness that we are a very minute part of this magnificent creation. Our awareness takes on a spiritual quality and a humility that knows we are part of a grand, wondrous, mystery, and that we must care for the small part of it that is our earth, our home. It forms the foundation of our new myth.

Carl Jung is not nearly as well known as Einstein, but in the psyche or spiritual realm he has transformed our thinking about things spiritual in a new way. He has moved traditional religious thinking from a supernatural understanding to the realm of our experience.

Jung affirms that in some sense we are two people. There is a voice, a self, a soul, within us apart from, but intimately connected with, our external self who carries on life in the reality of the world. When we are in tune with our inner voice it is forever urging us to be our real selves in the world. Jung calls this inner self our psyche. It is unique to us, our portion of the yearning consciousness of the Universe. This yearning consciousness Jung names the universal Psyche. It is the creative and ordering (Word and Wisdom) energy of the Universe.

So there are two separate but intimately related orders of reality, the Psychic and the Material. I have previously spoken of the “yearning consciousness”, the Psych, creating a material universe to enable the Psyche to become fully conscious. The purpose of our lives is to help the Universe become fully conscious by becoming as fully conscious as we can. This forms another dimension of our contemporary myth.

Aquarius Appears

Now comes the age of Aquarius with its expanding vision of the nature of reality.

A quick scan of the internet provides a plethora of sites describing Aquarius. Here is the information from a few.

“A common position expressed by many astrologers sees the Age of Aquarius as that time when humanity takes control of the Earth and its own destiny as its rightful heritage, with community, does an enormous amount of helping, caring, and supporting of the community, country and world.”

“Another view suggests that the rise of scientific rationalism, combined with the fall of religious influence, the increasing focus on human rights since the 1780s, the exponential growth of technology, plus the advent of flight and space travel, are evidence of the dawning of the Age of Aquarius.”

“Aquarius is the house of the woman. In this age the woman will be equal to the man”.

“Aquarius is the most global sign of all. What will matter is that we are all connected, we are all brothers and sisters in spirit and we are heading in the same direction.”

“Gnostic philosopher Samael Aun Weor declared February 4, 1962, to be the beginning of the ‘Age of Aquarius’.” There is no common agreement on the starting date. This one is in the midst of the great 1960s social upheaval, so I will go with it.

We are far from the vision presented here. It is the work of the Age of Aquarius.

The Grim Present Reality

You could be forgiven if, in the face of our present reality, you believed the above to be a total fantasy.

The ‘perfect storm’ of happenings dangerous to the future of humanity can be depressing to the point of despair. Environmental change, erratic and radical weather, the rise of populism, Donald Trump, a pandemic, the Ukraine-Putin war, inflation, sexism, racism, domestic violence, mass shootings, false news, conspiracy theories, scams, and whatever else, denies full humanity to all people.

Positive Aspects of Present Reality

But don’t despair. There are powerful forces at work to heal and strengthen the human community. Most of the world has become attuned to the reality of climate change and are doing their/our little bit to lessen our misuse of our earth. Governments are developing plans to keep the rising temperature of the earth to 1.5 degrees. Granted, there is still a large gap between what is being done and what is needed, but the issue is penetrating international consciousness.

Then there are all the healing and justice movements at work locally and internationally. “Black Lives Matter”, the various movements for the acceptance of all sexual orientations, and the dignity, competence, and integrity of women, a growing awareness of the devastation that Christian and Western arrogance has wrecked upon the earth, the healing of Indigenous relationships, and the lists go on. And compassionate and caring are inherent in the human soul and at work everywhere..

When Emily’s daughter, Lisa, one of the 22 victims of the Nova Scotia mass shooting of April 2020, the response was immediate and overwhelming from family and friends, of course, but also from Nova Scotia, Canada, and the world. And it still continues. The province provided counseling, and the Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, personally phoned her children.

In the spiritual realm, even though traditional religions are fading, spirituality – the yearning to commune with a spiritual reality and primal force that envelops us in a feeling of presence – is alive and well. Eric Lerner, writing of his friendship with Leonard Cohen in Matters of Mutual Interest, reports a conversation about IT, their name for their spiritual search. “To us IT was a certainty, not an uncertainty, a certainty that there is something ineffable yet more real than anything we touch, taste, or fuck, a certainty we could not dispute no matter how hard we tried. IT was a spectral, brooding presence” (p. 8). Many of us can affirm this sentiment.

“I am spiritual, but not religious” represents the attitude of many. People are searching in various and sundry ways to attune to a spiritual reality and are finding at least some satisfaction. Yoga, which speaks to both our internal self and the external reality of life, is finding wide acceptance. Spirituality will not go away and will keep us attuned to the grand Mystery of it all.

In spite of everything, there is goodness at work in the world, and the human heart is naturally compassionate.

Hopefully, there will come a point in the not too distant future when all of the forces for good which are at work in the world will reach critical mass and sweep over the world with a power that challenges the destructive forces at work.

A Contemporary Grounding Myth is Evolving

I’m talking about the story/myth that seeks to express our best understanding of reality at this moment in our evolving life, knowing that our understanding is never complete. We are, after all, small fish in a big ocean. As our understanding deepens new stories will evolve.

As David Paladin, a Navago artist and shaman, says, “All great truths are only myths that exist momentarily in the evolving greater consciousness … They may bear resemblance to their forbbearers, but each brings with it new features of it own and seeks to find its place and meaning in the dancing dream that is the cosmos” (Quoted by Dr. Matthew Fox in a recent blog).

Realities that a contemporary story must meet:

1. First of all, the evolving myth must be universal; something to which everyone can adhere..

No present religion can fulfill this requirement. The new myth must be our primary spiritual focus. We must meet it directly without going through a religion first.We need to develop the rites and rituals that draw us into the story and its implication. We might not call it worship, but we need regular gatherings to remind ourselves and one another of the awesomeness and mystery of the Universe and our place in it. In my limited experience I am hearing more references to the earth and the universe. There is the possibility that there could be a movement toward a Universe centered faith within the various religions. However, it must be the new myth first and everything else second.

This does not mean abandoning the wisdom offered to us by the various religions. They represent the ages of human experience in striving to be a human community. They have learned much along the way. We abandon the wisdom religions have gained at our peril.

2. The new myth must recognize we are all one. We differ in countless ways as individuals and groups, but we are all one in dignity and worth.

3. The new myth must recognize that we are of the stuff of the earth. We have come from the earth, along with all life, and are totally dependent upon the earth. We are not the masters of nature, nature is our master. As independent, self-aware creatures we are both responsible to the earth and for the earth.

4. Recognizing that we are dependent on the earth, the new myth must recognize that with our technology and independence our decisions can either nourish or destroy the health of the earth. We are responsible for the earth’s and our future. It is not “He has the whole world in his hands”, it is “We have the whole world in our hands”.

5. The new myth must recognize that even as we are of the earth we are, like the earth, of stardust. The same elements that make up the universe are what we are made of. Our bodies are entirely at one with the material universe.

6. The new myth must be in awe of the 13.7 billion years that have evolved into our present universe and the self-conscious aware creatures we are. Evolution is a wondrous reality that has led to the glory of the flowers, all the animals and plants that are our companions upon this earth, and our own consciousness that is aware of it all.

Surmising the Unanswerable Questions

7. The new myth must be aware of the grand Mystery of it all. There are questions to which science has no direct answer. What caused the Big Bang? What was there before the universe began? If you remember the Turtle story, (The earth rests on a great turtle. What does that turtle rest on. Another big turtle. And then what? It’s turtles all the way down.) It’s still turtles all the way down.

However, it is possible to surmise a few things from the evidence. Scientists are now concluding that the universe is much too complex to have happened by accident.

Paul Davies acknowledges, “There is for me powerful evidence that there is something going on behind it all. It seems as though somebody has fine-tuned nature’s numbers to make the Universe…. The impression of design is overwhelming.” (The Internet).

The other evidence that there must be some intelligence behind it all lies in the complexity of DNA. “The coding behind DNA reveals such intelligence that it staggers the imagination. A mere pinhead of DNA contains information equivalent to a stack of paperback books that would encircle the earth 5,000 times” (the internet).

Then there is the question of why? Why is there something rather than nothing? With a universe so complex, there must be some purpose behind it. If some intelligence created it, that intelligence must have had a reason.

Going back to our personal experience, an experience common to all. We are born with a certain capacity for a moral intelligence, but only through learning and experience do we develop our personal possibilities. Equally, we are born with an inherent consciousness. However, it is only through learning and the experience of life that we grow in consciousness, awareness, maturity, and all that it means to be human. We learn how to live through our personal experience enriched by the experience of the ages.

I interpret the biblical story as a witness to the development of consciousness. From the mythic Eve taking the first step into consciousness to the Cosmic woman of Revelation revealing that according to the author, John, the goal of the Universe for us is to become fully, conscious, fully human. (The Bible Beyond Religion: Witness to the Evolution of Consciousness). Presumably, other traditions have their own version of the story. What the grand purpose of the Universe might be is beyond our knowing.

Some scientists are now starting to speak of a conscious universe, and that the purpose of the universe is to become fully conscious. (Perhaps I will find the titles of some books. If not, you can. Old age is catching up to me.)

Our new myth, then, can begin with an affirmation that before there was anything there was a yearning for the fullness of consciousness.

This yearning for consciousness, not being a material reality, affirms that there is a reality in and through the whole evolving of the material universe. This creative energy has been sensed over the eons as a spiritual reality. It has given rise to the religions of the earth, an awareness that there is something at work within and beyond the material universe.

The material universe, wondrous and awe-inspiring as it is, is the vehicle through which the yearning consciousness does its thing. Just as we need a wondrously complex body through which to live our unique lives, the yearning consciousness needs a universe through which its own consciousness can ultimately be fully realized.

This does not mean that there is something anti-scientific behind it all. There are dimensions to science we do not understand. Everything is some form of energy, even consciousness.

8. Finally, the new myth will recognize that we have an outer and inner life. Within us there is a soul, a self, a personal and unique reality, that is of the same yearning for consciousness that created and permeates the universe. Our inner selves are our personal and unique integral part of the yearning universe. Our outer selves are where we live out, or fail to live out, the intimations of our inner being. In our uniqueness, we play a tiny part in enabling the universe to experience consciousness.

Have you followed all that? It may take some pondering. I’m working on it myself, and have four books that witness my journey; For Unbelieving, Celebrating Eve, The Death and Resurrection of God, and, The Bible Beyond Religion. The latter two spell out my present thinking.

Attempt at a Meaning-Giving Story

So what might a new grounding myth look like? I venture a first attempt, remembering that “All great truths are only myths that exist momentarily in the evolving greater consciousness”.

Before there was anything there was a consciousness yearning to become whole. Needing a partner to enable the venture, she created an enormous burst of energy, ordered in minute detail, that exploded into a material universe. For 13.8 billion years this wondrous creation has been evolving from plasma, to stars, to galaxies, to supernovas, to black holes, through the death of stars to new formations, to countless solar systems, to one with a planet earth. For 4 billion years earth has been evolving the conditions that make life possible. And life sprang forth. From the smallest of cells to spreading the beauty of flowers over the earth, and the eyes of animals to behold them, life grew, and with it, consciousness. One of these creatures stood on her hind legs and gazed at the stars with awe and wonder, and a new level of consciousness was born. Her reality grew from her immediate surroundings to the vastness of the heavens. With it came a feeling of presence and power, forces that stirred the imagination. Such forces could be intimidating as well as intriguing. To give meaning to all the spirits, forces, that they experienced they developed religions, gods and goddesses, who they felt controlled them, and everything that exists. Rites and Rituals developed to honour and appease the gods. Eventually human intelligence and reason evolved science, the objective study of reality. The belief in supernatural forces, the gods, faded. Now humans are in control of their own destiny. However, the feeling of presence and spirits did not disappear. A new awareness of a purposeful, spiritual, reality surrounds us. The yearning for consciousness is still the energy in and behind everything. This yearning surges within us. We long to fulfill that yearning within ourselves, to be the best, most whole, moral persons we can be, and so add the living of our lives to the purpose of the Universe.

quod erat demonstrandum

Hooray for Life.

 

Bibliography

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Borg, Marcus,.Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time: The Historical Jesus & the Heart of Contemporary Faith. New York, HarperSanFrancisco, 1994.

Campbell, Joseph. Primitive Mythology: (Masks of God: Vol 1).. New York: Penguin Books, 1959.

Crossan, John Dominic, The Historical Jesus: The Life of a Mediterranean Jewish Peasant. New York: HaprerCollins, 1991.

Edinger, Edward F. The Creation of Consciousness: Jung’s Myth for Modern Man. Toronto: Inner City Books, 1984.

Transformation of the God Image: An Elucidation of Jung’s Answer to Job. Toronto: Inner City Books, 1992.

Finkelstein, Israel and Silberman, Neil Asher. The Bible Unearthed: Archeology’s New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of it’s Sacred Texts. New
York: Simon & Schuster, 2001.

Fox, Matthew. A New Reformation: Creation Spirituality and the Transformation of Christianity. Rochester, Vermont: Inner Traditions, 2006.

Funk, Robert W, Hoover, Roy W.; and the Jesus Seminar. The Five Gospels: The Search for the Authentic Words of Jesus. New York: HarperSanFrancisco, 1993.

Funk, Robert W, and the Jesus Seminar.The Acts of Jeus: What Did Jeu Really Do: the Search for the Authentic Deeds of Jeus. New York: HarperSanFrancisco, 1998.

Jung, C.G. Memories, Dreams, Reflections. Ed. Aniela Jaffe, Tr. Richard and Clara Winston. New York, Vantage Books paperback edition, 1989.

Answer to Job. Trans. R. F. C. Hull. New York: Princeton University Press, 1959, paperback, 1973, 14th Ed. 2002.

Kierstead, Emily. Eternal Spirit: Songs of the Cosmic Spirit. Truro, NS: Self-Published, 2002.

Holy is Our Life: More Songs of the Cosmic Spirit. Truro, NS: Self- Published, 2009. (Available from emilykierstead0@gmail.com)

Murray, Don. For Unbelieving Christians: Rethinking the Christian Faith in Today’s World. Sackville, New Brunswick: Percheron Press, 1987.

Celebrating Eve: Christianity as a Pathway to Wholeness. Glen Margaret: Glen Margaret Publishing, 2001.

The Death and Resurrection of God: From Christianity to the New Story, Kelowna, BC: Pine Valley (imprint of Wood Lake Publishing, 2013.

The Bible Beyond Religion: Witness to the Evolution of Consciousness, British Columbia, Tellwell, 2021.

Rubenstein, Richard. The Cunning of History, Harper & Row, 1975.
Sanford, John. Mystical Christianity: A Psychological Commentary on the Gospel of

John. New York: The Crossroad Publishing Company, 1933. Swimme, Brian and Thomas Berry. The Universe Story: From the Primordial Flaring

Forth to the Ecozoic Era–A Celebration of the Unfolding of the

Cosmos, New York, Harperone, 1994.

 

Donald F. Murray, B.A., M.Div., M.Th. Don Murray is a United Church of Canada minister, educator, workshop facilitator and author, enjoying life with his partner Emily Kierstead, in Truro, Nova Scotia. He is now retired, having served pastorates in the Maritimes for 32 years and as Program Director and then Executive Director of Tatamagouche Education and Spirituality Centre for 8 years.

He has five children by his first marriage to Elizabeth Johnson: Deborah, Patricia, Joan, John and Donald. Emily Kierstead is now his partner and soul mate.

Having awakened to “the-death-of-God” in the early 1960’s, Don has been an avid searcher. He has authored four books, For Unbelieving Christians (1987), Celebrating Eve, (2001), The Death and Resurrection of God: From Christianity to the New Story (2014), and The Bible Beyond Religion: Witness to the Evolution of Consciousness, (2021). He wrote a Religion Column for the Truro Daily News for 20 years. With Emily he shares a passion for the emerging Universe Story, and they have led programs and workshop services on that theme.

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