Evolutionary Christian, Michael Dowd preaches through the lenses of evidentiary faith. His refreshing articulation of “God” as the personification of reality points us to a panentheistic understanding of reality (not to be confused with pantheism). Dowd sees right-relationship with reality as the domain of ecology rather than theology.
While on sabbatical last summer, I took on the daunting task of reading Teilhard de Chardin. (sabbatical post on Chardin) I did so because so many of the progressive Christian scholars that I admire and have learned so much from, site Teilhard de Chardin and I thought that it was long past time for me to become familiar with these important primary texts. Well my ambition far outweighed my capacity for understanding and I found myself weighed down in Chardin’s seminal work The Phenomenon of Man. I was hopelessly lost until I discovered the work of the renowned Teilhard de Chardin scholar Ursula King. (King pointed me in the direction of a superior translation of Chardin’s work by Sarah Appleton-Weber: The Human Phenomenon).
In this video, Ursula King explores the impact of the discovery of evolution has and is having on religion, society and consciousness. As an expert on de Chardin, King brings a unique perspective to the emergence of synergies between various ways of knowing. (the interview by Krista Trippett mentioned in the video can be found here)
When we begin to let go of the various images we have fashioned into the idol that for so long has been the focus of our worship, we open ourselves to the embrace of the ONE who is so much more than we can possibly imagine or describe. We live in a culture that encourages us to abdicate our role of peering beyond our fears in order to catch a glimpse of the HOLY so that we can become like children who faithfully follow in the footsteps of the loud and the powerful. And so, we have settled for definitions and images of the DIVINE that are mere talismans from which we dare only to ask for good fortune to somehow come our way. Letting go of the grand-pupiteer-in-the-sky-father-god is not easy. Moving beyond the idolatry born of our fears requires a faith that trusts that our movement is supported by the ONE we seek.
I offer this video of Neil deGrasse Tyson’s testimony (I use this term in its full religious sense because Tyson’s proclamation represents the best of what this medium of communicating a profound experience can be) as a way to inspire questions about the nature of the DIVINE.
Tyson’s testimony about his encounters with the universe open me to an understanding of the DIVINE that has been described as panentheism which suggests that all of creation is in God and God is in all of creation; (pan=all, en=in, theism=god). Panentheism is not to be confused with pantheism which looks at the tree and sees god and so worships the tree. Panentheism sees the tree as sacred because it is in God who is also in all that is. Where Tyson sees us held by the universe, I wonder if the universe is another way of speaking of the MYSTERY we call GOD, or is the universe held in God, and if so how might we begin to relate to all the various aspects of the universe knowing that that are both in and of God?
Such an image of the DIVINE implies that everything that is is held in God and so all that is is sacred. It also means that as we move beyond our fears God is the very GROUND OF OUR BEING (Tillich). With all that is being revealed to us about the wonders of creation, can we begin to move beyond our idols trusting that as we put one foot in front of the other, God will uphold us? As we leave behind the talismans can we begin to seek more than merely good fortune and turn our ardent desires toward the adventure of an ever evolving universe? I wonder, can we possibly begin to feel the tender embrace of the DIVINE?