FROM TYRANNY & RAMPANT INDIVIDUALISM TO A BROAD THEOLOGY IN THE SPIRIT OF THOMAS MERTON 02-12-2015

I sometimes come down hard on fundamentalist and new age Christianity. Yet, when I do I hope to wield a blade of truth, which heals the wounds it inflicts. A direct word that protects our minds from toxic extremes is more loving in the long run than evasive words.

Our spiritual path to the source is precious, yet precarious. So, I wouldn’t leave it to un-rooted new age experiments. I also wouldn’t leave it to fundamentalist religion. The Alexandrian Mystics care enough about the seeker to warn against destructive excesses. The crown jewel of the Alexandrian Mystics, the Jesus Paradox, frees us from excesses and fixations. The Jesus Paradox leads us toward dynamic union, where Jesus becomes a window into our true self, which experiences dynamic union with God.

The chasm between God and humanity was the greatest division imaginable to the ancient mind. By bridging the chasm Jesus became the great mediator, balancing unimaginable extremes. Jesus’ balancing act has numerous implications for world affairs. For, the world is teetering between tyrannies (fundamentalism) on the one hand, and unchecked individualism (new age) lacking any lasting cohesion, on the other.

The threat of tyranny ran high during World War II. More recently, the threat was felt during the cold war, when the possibility of nuclear annihilation cast a shadow over my young mind. In my Virginia neighborhood in the 1980s, our neighbors had a nuclear fallout shelter in their backyard, complete with canned food stores. Walking the stone steps into the underground shelter scared me to death.

Less conspicuous, but also noxious, is the tyranny of runaway individualism, superficial television programming, and the “sex & money” culture that lacks a social conscience. Superficial new age phenomena that lacks commitment through thick and thin, lineage, history, and a street address, is also not the ticket.

The life giving Jesus Paradox is a dance that wards off the tyrannies of individualism run-a-muck and absolutism leading to violence. The dance encourages new age to root their spiritual practice in a historic tradition. The dance interacts with fundamentalists, affirming Jesus is at the center, but encouraging a loosened grip. The adept dancer critiques what’s wrong within a tradition while remaining in it. This dance is not revolution. It is not preservation. It is reformation.

I dream of a world where people experience freedom from the tyrannies of absolutism and “anything goes” individualism. I dream of a world where the balance and grace of the Alexandrian Mystics opens the way to a broad theology in the spirit of the parables and in the spirit of Thomas Merton.