Community Consciousness 01-15-2016

With Augustine, humanity took a quantum leap forward to “self-consciousness.” Augustine was the first human being to say “I” in his book, Confessions. Now we desperately need “community-consciousness” to flourish once again.

We don’t necessarily need more communities organized around the profit motive, hobbies, or special interest groups. What our souls long for is community that has the breadth, which only longstanding faith traditions can provide—an umbrella for family, for spiritual practice, for community, for social justice—an umbrella providing continuity through generations, where our loved ones are baptized, married, and buried.[1] Where there’s profound intimacy and good boundaries. Where there is a refreshing absence of litmus tests for membership or an inner circle who decides whose in and whose out. Where all are welcomed, no matter who they are and no matter where they are on life’s journey. This is the beloved community Jesus inaugurated in the Gospels that yearns to become incarnate in your church and mine.

Many in my generation write off the faith of previous generations as “quaint” and “old hat.” This cuts us off from previous generations and increases our isolation and anxiety. Deeply connecting with our faith connects us with our extended families of origin. It connects us to the history of civilization and its architects. When there’s cohesion with the past, there is hope for the future. This is the essence of the Bible—continuity between past and future.

When Christians ask, “How will God be revealed in the future?” the answer is another question, “How was God revealed in the past?” The way God was revealed in the past points to how God will be revealed in the future. God was revealed in the unity of Christ. Through his ministry the disunited self, the disunited relationship, the disunited community, were united. Through faith in him and communion with him, we can become united. A devoted heart is a great start on the path. An integrated and holistic mind transformed by the Jesus Paradox arches the path up the mountain of the mystics.

[1] An aside about communal life. . . When I was traveling in India I met a woman from Canada who was conducting research on the longest lived communities on the planet. She had visited Find Horn in Scotland, some Quaker communities, The Iona Community off the coast of Scotland, and some collective farms and co-operatives around the world. She found that the most long-standing communities throughout the world all have spiritual traditions built into their community life. These communities understand that without spiritual practice we can’t unravel our personal baggage and without spiritual practice we can’t cultivate the personal serenity and breadth to deal with the baggage of those around us. The Twenty-first Century global village requires deep collective commitment to spiritual practice to insure cohesion in the face of daunting social and cultural upheaval.