Wednesday 29 December 2010

Dreaming non-dualistic dreams and seeing visions of a new creation

We arrive at the end of 2010 with an ‘us and them’ duality still firmly embedded in the mindset of some Christian leaders. Us and them as in we who are Christians set against Moslems, we who are Bible-believing Christians set against those who have deserted the tradition, we who are faithful to Jesus set against those who have abandoned Biblical teaching, we who are destined for salvation set against those who are following Satan’s path to hell and damnation, we who are heterosexual and happily married set against those sexually licentious lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people who are promiscuous and engage in perverted sexual practices.

The Telegraph reports that Lord Carey has written to the Prime Minister. Carey highlights one subject he defines as particularly contentious - the clash of rights between homosexuals and Christians - as if these are distinct groups at war across a great divide.

Lord Carey mindlessly repeats the belief that those who hold traditional Christian viewpoints, “in common with millions across the globe and across history, suddenly find their position labelled discriminatory and prejudiced and then discover that it has effectively become a legal bar to public service.”

In the same vein, the ever-reliable Bishop of Winchester, Michael Scott-Joynt, told the BBC’s World This Weekend: “The problem is that there is a really quite widespread perception among Christians that there is growing up something of an imbalance in the legal position with regard to the freedom of Christians and people of other faiths to pursue the calling of their faith in public life, in public service.”

It doesn’t seem to occur to George Carey or Michael Scott-Joynt that Christians such as myself and the patrons and trustees and supporters of Changing Attitude and the tens thousands of LGBT Christians and their friends and families, hold a very different view of what it means to be a Christian, in deep prayerfulness and with great integrity.

The polarities which these two bishops wish not simply to defend, but extend the reach of, are in my view a danger to the health and safety of individuals, of our society and of the well-being of our planet and the global community.

They want to protect minority traditions, an exclusive idea of God and salvation, an us and them mentality, and a defensive, judgmental system of salvation.

This is not the vision of God’s creative energy and of the incarnation which inspires (too small a word – how about fuels?) my faith and my work in Changing Attitude.

“The Word became flesh; he made his home among us, and we saw his glory, such glory as befits the Father’s only son, full of grace and truth.” John 1.14

“He is the image of the invisible God; his is the primacy over all creation. In him everything in heaven and on earth was created … the whole universe has been created through him and for him. He exists before all things and all things are held together in him. For in him, God in all his fullness chose to dwell.” Colossians 1.15-17, 19

All things are created in the image of God, including lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and our loves and relationships.

Does the future of creation lie with those who want to preserve, defend and protect old paradigm, dualistic patterns of theology and human relationships? Will the Church continue to judge and find wanting those of us who are simply different from what the majority assumed to be ‘normal’?

Are those of us who dream of a new heaven and a new earth, a new paradigm, who dream dreams and see visions of the things which the apostles and evangelists were inspired and enlightened by, are we going to live more deeply into our vision of the Kingdom of God in 2011?

The apostles, evangelists and witnesses were given revelations into the nature of God and creation which can still transform our emotional, cognitive and imaginative ability to dream our own dreams and have confidence in our vision of this finite creation with its infinite potentialities which can transcend our destructive, dualistic thinking.

Today’s visionaries and dreamers include Desmond Tutu, Esther Mombo, Jack Spong, Elizabeth Stuart, Ken Wilber, Carter Heyward, Marcus Borg, Grace Jantzen, Thomas Moore, Rosemary Radford Ruether, Richard Holloway, Virginia Ramey Mollenkott, James Alison, Nomfundo Walaza, Richard Rohr, Jenny Plane Te Paa, Gideon Byamugisha and many, many others.

More tomorrow!

Colin Coward

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  1. Excellent post, thank you.
    My personal favourite non-dualistic thinkers are RC theologians James Alison and the amazing Richard Rohr.
    On the Anglican side there's also Tom Ehrich with his brilliant daily "On A Journey" meditations.

  2. On Facebook, friends commented that there were no Africans on the list at the end of the post. I tried to maintain gender balance in the list, and I've now added Desmond Tutu who should have been there in the first place, and Esther Mombo (Kenya), Nomfundo Walaza (South Africa) and Jenny Plane Te Paa (New Zealand), whose names may not be as well known, but who are contributing radical theological ideas to the Communion.

  3. Very good Blog Colin - let's continue pray for more movement to openness in the year to come.

    On George Carey's latest letter you might find this amusing ...

    God Bless,

  4. Colin, Its Richard Rohr who has helped me more than anyone else to see beyond simple dualistic readings of God and creation towards something more like good news, more Christlike...