This is a summary of some history taken from Phyllis Tickle’s book, The Great Emergence.
I am reflecting on the recent spate of shootings in the US.
What we are seeing now is the last throes of a dying mentality. And it is violent. I believe that the shootings that we are seeing make the news are signs of what has gone before and how individual it has become.
Biblical literalism and inerrancy started to die prior to the civil war. When we, as a society, decided that slavery was not okay, we had to throw bits of the Bible out.
- You can find pro slavery quotes in Hebrew scripture here
- You can find pro slavery quotes in Christian scripture here
From the beginning, in Methodism, there was a movement that slavery was not okay. So Methodism is grounded in the anti-slavery movement and therefore has never been in the literal and inerrant camp. But that is an aside. Pretend I didn’t even let that internal monologue come out!
Anyway, this is a primary time when social pressures about humanity changed the church. Our understanding of what it means to be human, changed everything! Our understanding of our relationship with everything began to change.
- Human to human
- Human to divine
- Human to world
After knocking out Biblical literacy/inerrancy regarding slavery, other stakes began to fall—the walk towards equality began for women. That fell through a series of actions including: the right to vote, Rosie-the-Riveter & WWII, women’s ordination. We moved into full consideration of women as equal participatory members of the community.
At every step along the way, fringe groups have stepped out of the overwhelming tide that is the march towards greater freedom and greater humanity. And while they are stepping out, they are noisy, violent, and dare I say, evil. Evil is not a word I use lightly. But evil brings harm to other people and delights in it.
Now, we are seeing sexuality and gender fall to the wayside and equal treatment of all genders and sexual expressions is coming to fruition. We are in the last days of change that began long ago in the days of William Wilbeforce, John Wesley, and others.
Phyllis Tickle proposes that this is the end of it. We are in the violence that comes with a dying way of being. Where people strike out and do whatever harm they can because there is no longer a place for them or they batten-down-the-hatches and stick their head in the ground while they slowly dwindle away. That leaves the rest of us to experience growing freedom and understanding.
I am wondering, though, if there is not one more thing that will have to be cast aside that will take longer. What about our relationship with the world. We can change our relationship with others, letting them have equal rights…We can change our relationship with the divine, understanding God to be in the process of living and loving…But none of that necessitates a change with our relationship to the world.
I didn’t even know I was thinking this until I wrote it down just now! We have one more strike above and beyond LGBTQIA* inclusion and that is the inclusion of the world as a living, breathing, partnership in our own living. No longer will we have dominion. No longer will we have a resource. We are depleting the resources the world offers at a rate faster than it can sustain regrowth. Eventually, that will lead to a devastating result.
The next devastating stand will come over our treatment of the world and it will take much longer because there is no human face on the cosmos nor is there a divine face. We have fashioned God in our own image neglecting the idea that whatever we imagine God to be, God is bigger than that. We are made in the image of God. What does it do to our thinking to imagine that a tree is made in the image of God?
Why will this be the next-last-stand? Because it will take all of us working in cooperation in order to create healing change in the environment. Of course, change is already happening and maybe I am reading the signs wrong and it will come quicker than I thought. But I am imagining that there is some way, mentally, to come to an acceptance of treating other people with equality and respect, but pushing people’s boundaries into accepting animals, trees, earth, cosmos as divine and needing not only respect, but tender loving care, will cause the fringe elements to explode—hopefully for the last time.
I don’t know. Just random thoughts on this morning. What do you think?