Sunday, 6 January 2008

Following the extreme pilgrim

Have we lost the spiritual dimension to Christianity in the West?

To a large extent I believe that we have – or at least we have diminished the importance of it. Maybe this is due to the post-Reformation fear of ‘mumbo jumbo’ – so the focus was moved from feeling to knowing. Then as a result of the Enlightenment, knowledge and rational thinking became a dominant theory in church life. More recently we have perhaps emphasised the aspect of the ‘personal salvation decision’, rather than developing a relationship with God.

I realise that all of these points are contestable, but it seems to me that they fit a picture of Western, Protestant Christianity that I recognise.

So what if the analysis above is correct? What do we need to do about it?

Well, I came across a publisher blurb for a book on Henri Nouwen, which talked about “… escaping the tyranny of busyness, choosing to live in ways that, moment by moment, remind us of who we are – the beloved of God.” I like that!

The key to any solution (if a solution is needed), is to recognise and define the problem, then carefully consider what it is that is trying to be fixed. I suggest that this is not a quick fix or extreme makeover of the sort you see on TV. Rather it’s about adapting and adjusting our approach and building a more balanced perspective.

More to follow … but in the meantime a quotation from an Indian philosopher to think about:

“A cup is useful only when it is empty; and a mind that is filled with beliefs, with dogmas, with assertions, with quotations is really an uncreative mind.”
Jiddu Krishnamurti

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