The question so many ask. Is it us, or is it something else? We live in a time of mammoth change with society becoming increasingly secular. As I’ve noted before, an artificial age. A world of our own making, with no need for belief in God.
So many people speak of all forms of crisis facing our planet, from nuclear arsenals, to environmental deterioration. From population explosion, to super bugs.
Is all crisis bad? Maybe not...
There are often over-arching reasons for crisis. Certainly it has been spoken of as the clash of cultures. But another of interest to us, is what some speak of as the clash of cosmologies. Essentially, the way we picture all reality?
At this time of history we are immersed in the scientific cosmology. And it speaks meaningfully to most people. The church is slow in truly responding. Is the way we live out our faith wrong, or have we just lost a meaningful way of expressing it for the new understanding of life?
As I read the gospel today, I see traces of today’s questions even in Jesus times. We read that on leaving the temple the disciples commented on the size of the buildings and the beauty of the structures. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. There is so much beauty that radiates out through all creation, and we would say because it is the creation of God and God is beauty.
Yet Jesus cautions his disciples, that this does not make it permanent. And so he proceeds to caution them, that as permanent as such buildings seem, they will be destroyed. For those who love the wonderful study of our world through scientific exploration, delight in its beauty and truth. Great pillars of ancient philosophy yet it may not be the ultimate picture.
The gospel suggests a slightly different picture. Jesus warns them that they will be caught up in such destruction. They will be dragged into courts and tried. Their permanent world will itself crumble. But he assures them that the heart of their faith is what is permanent. The sprit will provide what they need. This alludes to what we might say is an alternative cosmology than the popular scientific one.
Panikkar speaks of such alternative cosmologies as creating the situation that ultimately fuels our crisis, but that does not mean it is not good? Out of such a crisis, the challenge of finding a reconciling solution is possible. Matter and Spirit are merely two sides of the one great God. Of course it means an open mind and a great deal of humility if one is to find a greater perspective.
THE FUTURE CHURCH
Today we will review our organizational church life. It is certainly modest as many other churches are. If it seems like crisis, then we must embrace it as challenge. We must explore an understanding of life that respects what the world is discovering and a deeper understanding of our faith.