When Worlds Collide: A Meditation on Religion and After Religion as we Know It

When Worlds Collide: A Meditation on Religion and After Religion as we Know It May 25, 2016

mohammed, jesus, buddha

It was 1977. Actually, it was this day in 1977. The Chinese government officially lifted a long standing ban on owning or reading or, well, performing William Shakespeare’s plays and other writings. Apparently it has become the incident that some people like to use as a marker for the end of the disastrous Cultural Revolution.

I think a lot about multiculturalism and internationalism and the good and the ill of it. Here in the United States we are struggling with that shrinking globe and its economic implications. For me I want international trade to be about lifting all boats. Done right, it certainly can be. Sadly, in reality it has tended to be more about lowering wages in this country, and I fear not far behind a rapid lowering of our domestic working conditions. Well, maybe the emerging “gig economy” has already done that. Still, we’re now all in this together, the whole world. And I don’t think this genie is going to be put back in the bottle. There’s no way anybody is going to successfully cut ourselves off from the rest of the world. At least not for any serious amount of time. And not that there aren’t going to be some serious attempts at it. Sadly, I see more conflict on the way. Domestic, and raging across the globe.

(In the meantime the twin monsters of our human making, overpopulation and climate change are rushing unchecked toward some unpleasant resolution.)

But, then there are the other things also happening. The meeting of cultures, the clash of cultures, the culture wars, all are fertile soil. for instance. The Chinese get Shakespeare. And, on my Facebook feed I see various posts pushing for Philosophy courses to include at the very least Chinese philosophy, no doubt a little Chuangzu or Laozu, or let’s go crazy, a bit of Kongfuzi (that’s Pinyin for Confucius. Come on, keep up…). Personally I look forward to a time when we have as easy access to the wisdoms of Africa and India as we do of Europe. And I think its coming, and its coming fast. Ah, the interwebs, no longer just for cat videos, meaningless flame wars, and pornography!

Fertile soil, indeed.

For me, silly optimist that I am, I see in this meeting of minds and hearts and with that great dance of possibility, just the tiniest bit of hope. A glimmer, but it is there. Here.

Yes, we probably will kill ourselves off, either in ten thousand nuclear explosions, or simply starving to death on a poisoned planet if we don’t first choke to death on our own waste. Or, more likely some combination of the above.

But, we don’t have to. Rather.

We can find the deep stories of possibility, the truths of our preciousness as individuals bound up within a play of relationships that is more intimate than our very lives; and out of that find the possibilities that can lead us and our planet to its healing.

I believe if this way is found, if we can hope to thread the needle and make it from here to a there that’s worth being at, the secret will most likely be found within the clash of religions. Now, I don’t believe all religions are equal. I don’t believe all religions are taking us up separate paths on the same mountain. I don’t believe there is an essential truth to be discovered. Actually the secret has more to do with the fact there are no essences. It is in fact a WYSIWYG world. What you see is what you get.

So, what’s to be found is much simpler. And, yes. It is much more complicated.

What the religions all show is that we must learn the ways to let go. Let go of our ideas of what is true, what must be, and open ourselves. Religions bring the many faces of wonder.

The secret is found in that opening to wonder. Then all the secrets begin to tumble out of that mysterious moment when we find we don’t know. Our opening, our not knowing is a cornucopia of possibility.

Astonishment. Fear. Awe. Isolation. Independence. Connection. Intimacy. Love.

The great mashup can indeed point to that possibility, to those possibilities.

It is doing it already. For those with the eyes to see, the hearts to hear.

Find it. And maybe there’s hope.

Find it.

And from there?

Who knows?

Who knows?


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