There is much talk that although people have given up on institutionalised religion they are still seeking a spirituality to live by. Creation Spirituality might be the answer. In this essay, Vince Exley uses excerpts from various sources to explain how a spirituality and way of thinking, based on the creativity of the Universe, offers a spirituality that is totally free of superstition. Vince argues: "Moreover this spirituality, based on understanding the powers of creativity in the universe has become an absolute need for all to follow if the earth is to survive the 21st Century."
Creative Spirituality for the 21st Century
The Climate Change Challenge...
Climate Change is one of the most urgent global challenges for the 21st Century. Addressing the root causes of the problem will require an unparalleled level of international cooperation, to which national governments, businesses, civil society and religions have contributions to make. As UN Secretary Ban Ki-moon points out, we cannot succeed in the struggle against global warming without the help, the support and the guidance of our religious and spiritual traditions. Our religious and spiritual traditions have guided human conduct for thousands of years, and they can inspire the change in the minds and hearts of people required in the transition to a sustainable path of living and development. They can also bring something into the discussion that is desperately needed in the current situation: the renewable energy of hope, of joy and celebration that helps us to see light and creative energy in situations of darkness and despair.
The science is very clear: Climate Change is causing serious harm to people and nature. At its core, climate change needs to be understood as an ethical, and indeed a moral issue: If we do not respond quickly and decisively, the negative effects of human-induced climate change will increase, affecting most severely the most vulnerable communities and ecosystems. We must, therefore, consider the consequences of our collective inaction on this major global challenge and take action to avoid causing further harm.
Scientists warn that Earth's climatic system will react with non-predictable, abrupt and non-linear events and catastrophic consequences for humans and the environment. These non- linear changes are fuelled by self-enforcing "positive" feed-back loops that accelerate the destabilization process. One critical feedback is set in motion by melting polar ice: As the ice melts, more of the incoming sunlight is absorbed by the water that heats up and accelerates the melting process.
Research suggests that these feedback circles have already started: During the summer 2007, the withdrawal of Arctic ice reached an all time low of 4.13 million sq km, falling below the previous record of 2005 by an area roughly the size of Texas and California combined, or nearly five UKs.
Given the seriousness of the challenge ahead of us, we need to realize that climate change has not only scientific, economic and political aspects as the public debate seems to suggest. At its core, climate change needs to be understood as an ethical issue. How we live our lives today will determine the fate of future generations and the most poor and vulnerable, as well as other species that live on this planet that cannot protect themselves against rising sea levels and increasing climate disasters.
Many religious institutions are responding in some way: Hindu, Muslim, Catholic, Jewish, Orthodox, Bahia and Evangelical to name some.
The Creativity of the Universe itself...
Reflecting on the universe, it's size, it's age, the tremendous journey through time that has carried the elements, the galaxies, the planets, life and us, brings one to see that the creativity of the universe contains within its self the spiritual qualities we must all adopt if humanity is to survive.
Down through the ages, unique people such as Jesus and others have intuited these basic spiritual values and proclaimed them. They were aware that they were part of something mysterious and greater than they could possibly understand and unfortunately invented superstitions to account for what they could not understand, such as a God up in the sky who ruled over us. Few of these ancient concepts and the religions they fostered are of any use to us today.
We are only now beginning to understand that our ordinary consciousness needs to be transformed in order to embody the new story of the universe. As we learn to embody this story, and as our thinking and acting find their foundation in the ways of the cosmos, we will begin to live lives that are congruent with the cosmos and that are suffused with zest. Central to this endeavor will be the exploration of faith in our capacity to bring forth a vibrant Earth Community.
The Human Impact on Earth...
Humans have only recently entered the Earth community (2 million or so years ago) and have more recently become an influential part of the earth's system. Hugely successful, particularly over the last few hundred years, humans have risen to powers that are not on a par with anything else on Earth. We can alter the chemical composition of the sky, divert the rivers of the world, pump oil and water from beneath the surface, eliminate other species, and completely transform the landscape of a region.
This newly founded power has both its positive and negative aspects. Look around you and marvel at the cities, the cars, the airplanes, the supermarkets, the hydroelectric and coal power plants, the homes, landscapes, parks and golf courses. Reflect for a moment on the miracles of modern medicine and its capacity to heal and extend our lives. It's really something! Just imagine bringing someone from another century into the present time.
Yet, in the midst of this progress and human advancement is the startling realization that we have over extended ourselves. We now discover that our ambitious human agenda is so big and powerful that we are exerting overriding pressures on the rest of the earth's economy. Can we continue to do that and remain prosperous into the future? [Source: www.storyoftheuniverse.org/gaia-theory-2/]
In The Powers of the Universe DVD by Brian Swimme, we have an exploration of the powers coursing through the Universe and each of us. We are shown how the dynamics that organized the universe are alive within us. Allurement, Emergence, Cataclysm, homeostasis, and synergy course through the stars, the earth, nature and humans. We find our way by learning about these powers in our lives.
So these are the powers that have maintained the universe for 13.7 billion years. They are also the spiritual values everyone in the world must adopt if we are to survive.
The creativity of the universe has brought mankind to the heights he now occupies. However, today the Earth is threatened by industrial greed. We are fast using up most of the Earth's resources. Millions are without adequate food, and are dying of starvation. Water is fast becoming a threatened resource. The Earth's atmosphere is threatened by greenhouse gases, and this is possibly the cause of some of the world's extreme weather events.
Religions such as Christianity have expressed part of these values in such affirmations as love of one's neighbour. But, religions today have lost a lot of relevance because of the superstitious baggage they also promote, superstitions that many of the world's population reject, leaving them without any guiding spirituality. There is absolutely no indication that the universe was created by some being. It could just as well have been created by some sort of process.
So we have to ensure that the earth's population is aware of the Earth's story, and of the need to understand the importance of Allurement, Emergence, Cataclysm, homeostasis, and synergy if we are all to survive. How is this to be done?
How is this to be done?
Vince's comment: That of course is the big question. Many are already searching in these areas for a relevant spirituality that will solve the earth's problems. But many more need to be carrying out their own investigations. The changes will probably not start at the top. Moreover I'm afraid they may not come until it is almost too late.
When cataclysmic events start to take place people will wake up and I predict that some of the responses will be startling. For example I can see the day when all religious superstitions are banned because they divert people away from the synergy needed in the world if humanity is to survive.
We stand at a critical moment in Earth's history, a time when humanity must choose its future. As the world becomes increasingly interdependent and fragile, the future at once holds great peril and great promise. To move forward we must recognize that in the midst of a magnificent diversity of cultures and life forms we are one human family and one Earth community with a common destiny. We must join together to bring forth a sustainable global society founded on respect for nature, universal human rights, economic justice, and a culture of peace. Towards this end, it is imperative that we, the peoples of Earth, declare our responsibility to one another, to the greater community of life, and to future generations.
Humanity belongs to one household — community of ecumenical earth — that now needs to observe common ethical standards for the sake of justice, peace, and integrity of creation. In an ever more interdependent world, human responsibility must be guided by a global spirituality that is congruent with the basic values which the world's cultures and religions hold in common.
I offer Creative Spirituality as way of thought to those who are searching for something that is real and not superstition.
The Earth Charter Initiative is a global movement that promotes the understanding and implementation of the values and principles for sustainable development that are outlined in the Earth Charter. The Initiative involves organizations, groups, and individuals worldwide.
The Earth Charter Initiative International Secretariat coordinates major programmes and global undertakings. It develops educational and training materials, facilitates workshops, and seeks international recognition for the Earth Charter. There is a wealth of wonderful information on their websites. See links below or in the side graphics.
Vince Exley submitted to Catholica on 05 April2012
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