Thursday, September 30, 2010

...On the Other Hand, We're Co-Evolutionaries.

I began writing this post as the one to occupy the space of my last post, but it was the last one that came out. Let's see if I can get it to come out here....

A concept as close to my heart as the concept of Co-creating, is the one of Co-Evolving.  Let me riff a bit, and see what you think.

Our Universe, as we've gotten to know it, followed an arrow of time; as it did, it also grew in complexity.  We call this Evolution.  And we've come to typically think of evolution within the framework of surviving, which is to say simply, the stuff that's here today exists because its forebears survived through yesterday. (Or yester-eon....) I think a prime example of what I'm trying to describe is the Grizzly Bear: when it comes to surviving, it's a tank. Only more elegant.

Sure- when it comes to survivability we have to give a nod to bacteria, or the mushroom, (which has the honor of being the largest organism alive on our planet). But along the arrow of time life doesn't just survive, it grows more complex. So when we link complexity with survivability, we have to obviously consider the Grizzly bear don't we?  I'ts an omnivore and is suited to live in all weather conditions; and when food might be scarce, as it often is in winter, it can hibernate.  I'm sure you might have another favorite choice for the pinnacle of survivability, but your choice would never displace the Grizzly, only stand or swim next to it.  However, you might ask, "what about human being?"

This is where I think things get even more interesting.  As life continued its march along time, In human being, life grew even more complex than the Grizzly.  

In the framework of survival, Life reaches a pinnacle in the Grizzly.  Yet Life continues further into complexity, through the evolution of human being, and seems to be accomplishing something else than what it accomplishes in Grizzly Bears- something else besides surviving:  What is this something else?

Co-Evolution!  I would offer, that the species we call Human Being, is the one species who has a real say in how it evolves.  So what can we say about all this?!

Merlin Donald, a neuroscientist who cross pollinates with archeology and anthropology, points out that the biological platform which you and I live with today--specifically our brains--has been in existence for about 180,000 years.  This means, that our evolution since then, hasn't stemmed from processes of an "at-large biology" alone, but from processes of what Dr.Peter Hubbard, another scientist, who in his case cross pollinates physics based, with social based sciences, would here call Mind. (And- collective Mind- which is what we also call culture.)

In other words, we who are human being today, didn't just evolve, we co-evolved: with Life and each other.  We are involved with the Universe in a joint project....

I'll end here for now with this.  I say in my subtitle that I'm out to create a space between Science and Religion; a space from which we can venture further into our Human experience.  What I'm getting at in this post, is that whichever side of this space you originate, we are bound together by this: In human being, life leaps from inevitability to response-ability. We are, at Heart and in Reality, Co-creators and Co-evolutionaries.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

A Love Affair that Still has Great Affect

While I may be loathing in constraining my thinking within a Christianity context, I find that in a secular context, people are loathe to think of the human life as something richer than animal life. My sense is that such an attitude is hoped to engender a more humble human presence- one that doesn't imperialize every thing in its path. Of course I laud this desire for humility. Still, if we, through this means of humility, blind ourselves to authentic human life, I don't know that such humility will in the end serve us. 

So this is what I'm wondering, "what if our problem of this imperialistic consuming, in actuality, stems from our actions of compensating for not experiencing authentic human life? And what if we don't experience authentic human life, because in reality, we have a hard time seeing it? How would we go about looking for it then?

One way I can think of is through the process of comparing and contrasting.

Now, I didn't grow up with church, nor did I grow up with wine. And yet, here I am: a man who has a love affair with God and wine; and my relationships to both lack their respective conventional approaches. Something I feel very fortunate for. Here, let me trace some of the history to my love affair with wine.

When I got into wine back in the late eighties, around the age of 29, I was  introduced and educated through a group in Minneapolis called the Bacchus Wine Society. Every month or so, they'd rent a hotel banquet room filled with tables set for ten, with each table bearing a big center tray of cheese and crackers, a couple of spit buckets (usually empty KFC chicken pails) and most importantly, two wine glasses per person. Well, maybe more important were the eight bottles of wine; still, the two glasses were as important here, because we would take turns serving wine to each other, two bottles at a time; it was having two glasses each, which enabled us to compare and contrast between two different wines at the same time. Do you want to know what tannins are and how they affect a wine's taste? Pour one glass with a wine that has them, and the other with a wine that doesn't. Here is where tasting speaks more than even pictures can, and just how good comparing and contrasting works.

I feel blessed for those wine tasting evenings way back then. For one reason, the seating was random. Each event I attended, I could have been sat with wine snobs- the ones who relate to wine more as status than experience, and love to wear their wine drinking like a badge. The people I was lucky enough to sit with, the ones who were real lovers, cared about the experience- for themselves as well for me. And while I learned to swirl a glass and get my nose into one as well as any snob, (I got my nose wet a couple of times while starting out) when it came to sharing our personal experience of each of the wine's unique set of elements, I was always in an environment where I felt  free to use any words in my vocabulary; there was never a pressure to pull words from some proper wine lexicon.

Out of all those terrific events, there’s this one night I remember that provided a particular moment of learning about wine; this moment I remember today with absolute fondness. It came about when Mary, a woman about fifteen years older, and with that much more wine experience than me, said something with this gracious gentle exuberance for all things alive, and just tossed out, "I taste eucalyptus..." So I rushed and took another taste of the same wine--it was my left side glass--and there it was! I tasted eucalyptus! It was amazing! How does something that's fruit, make eucalyptus?!

I learned some things that evening, which I keep in my heart today. Not only did Mary teach me to look for eucalyptus, somehow--that moment of learning that eucalyptus was present--made me aware of the nature of ignorance and how we learn of it. Most notable are these thoughts:

-Compared to other animal species, I would cite as a salient difference this fact:  we are the ones who can know of our ignorance. And it is this power that gives rise to one of our abilities which is even more powerful: we can form questions.

-Like the man who learned to fish, I do more than look for eucalyptus, I look for other things that I may not be accustomed to look for. This insight, transcends wine and translates across the board.
-Even though I was drinking the same wine as Mary, when I didn’t have the concept of eucalyptus apart from a cough drop, I wasn’t able to taste it in the wine.  We need more than our eyes to see, we need our ideas.  (Where do we ideas?)

-I learned something more about wine tasting, and when I did, wine’s mystery of alchemy only became more mysterious. (Btw, when something really is a Mystery, and not a puzzle, the more you know of it, the more—not less—mysterious it becomes.

-And finally, when you want to learn wine, comparing and contrasting between two bottles at a time proves very productive--even seductive. It’s in this spirit that I sometimes compare and contrast our human life with other kinds of animal life. I’m not out to determine and define—that is make some version of a “wine snob lexicon”—when I engage in such comparing and contrasting. Rather, I’m trying to create a means to explore our human life with the same kind of grace I experienced with people like Mary and the others, who loved wine, and relished taking turns at pouring new bottles into awaiting glasses.

Maybe, through this kind of tasting of our human life, we will begin to taste things we didn't realize were there. And as we find that there’s so much more to taste in the human life than consuming, we'll no longer feel such a dire need to acquire things the same way an addict gets locked in by his drug.  

Maybe we'll displace our imperialistic compensating, by deeply enjoying a new love affair with our very Human-ness.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Which would God prefer, our worship or our colleague-ship

I loathe the idea of talking about our human experience solely within a Christian context, even though the Christ Event has been a deeply meaningful experience for me, and has significantly shaped my sense of reality. I recently responded in a comment section to a blog entitled "Experimental Theology", written by Dr. Richard Beck who is a professor of psychology. I like his work a lot, though we differ in that he mostly is referencing a Christianity framework. And I'm not.

Still, I'm interested in influencing how we think about GoD and the Christ Event. And I thought this response to David, a man who typifies well, an evangelical pov (I'm not singling him out) might give you a glimpse of some of my own theological thinking. But first a caveat:

I'm using God language here for the sake of communicating with brevity to an evangelical culture. I wince when I use God language. Please allow me some grace as you read my comment- whether you hale from a God culture or don't- and see the spirit or mind behind my writing....

David, in an earlier thread, you challenged my claim that we are called to be adult colleagues with God in the making of Life together. I would like to answer your challenge here, and utilize the style of Jesus' approach to this discussion, by utilizing modern sewer systems as an underlying analogy for my point.

It is argued, that when it comes to the increased longevity and health of human being in the modern era, this increase doesn't stem from modern medicine, but from modern sewer and water systems- simply because they deal with the micro organisms causing illness in the first place.....

If this is the case, how is the making of competent sewer and water systems NOT a "Kingdom of God" activity?

Out of all the animals God creates, we of the Human species are the ones, who on the seventh day, when God rests, are invited to join Him in a picnic- as the story goes. Doesn't this sound like we are truly invited to colleague-ship? In contrast, I Love my dog and the feeling seems mutual; but I have yet to experience an adult human relationship with him.

We like Heaven when its free and we don't have to do the work and create it. In fact, we would rather huddle in worship and pine away for life on a platter. However, I bet when God witnessed our civil engineering to make sewer systems and modern bathrooms, there was a proud tear welling in His eye.

We think that God's essential nature is morality- not Creative Power.

In Reality, morality is easy. Creating is where the hard work is. But we relegate creativity to an afternoon at church camp where everybody gets to make Christian lanyards. At evening services we thunder about morality. The reality of morality though, is that all you have to do is paint the world in black and white and us and them. Then choose a side, puff up your chest and fight away; all the while luxuriating in the bigness of being on God's side: And explain away--that is wax theologically--how every one else is the problem.

Meanwhile, everyone else is maintaining sewer systems, and developing needed energy systems in order to create sustainable thriving for the whole planet. (You know, the thing we're given real creative responsibility for?) Is this the Life that Jesus went to the cross for? That we should take all the genius of God, which we get to embody, and huddle in quivering masses and await that "glorious day"?

In the paradigm of animal sacrifice, God says in Jesus' crucifixion, "look- you guys are still afraid of me. I'll tell you what- if sacrificing your first born child is the most powerful act that you can do to make me be on your side, then I will sacrifice My first born child: no act can be more powerful than this. Let it be settled then; I AM FOR YOU.

The ONLY reason we won't see ourselves as colleagues with God, we who are called to co-create Life together, is because we would rather be afraid, and justify our fear through a theology that God yearns to eradicate in the Life of Jesus.

If Christianity means that I have to dumb down my Human self, dumb down the genius God creates, dumb down Jesus' belief about God, then I would rather give up my Christianity.

But I refuse to give up the Christ: I refuse to back away from my true Humanness, which is a call to co-create real life with our Creator.