Opinions expressed here are my own and do not represent the views of the congregation I joyfully serve. But my congregation loves me!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

What Color is Your Christ?

I received a couple of books in the mail today for my review. The first is by Anglican priest, Ian Mobsby.



The Becoming of G-d: What the Trinitarian nature of God has to do with Church and a deep Spirituality for the Twenty First Century
.



This, my second book, seeks to explore the theology behind groups like Moot, Emerging & Fresh Expressions of Church. It looks at the whole issue of knowing G-d through experience, and that the concept of the Trinity, formulated through the Cappadocian Mothers & Fathers, is a best guess understanding of the nature of God, which though partially revealed in Christ, remains mystically out of reach. However, the Western church, through the differences of latin and greek texts, never fully understood the concept of the Trinity, which has distorted its theology and practice.

I explore the importance of this understanding of God in the context of our postmodern culture driven under the logic of consumption and information technology, which drives a new form of cultural mysticism. In this brave new world, the importance of church reflecting the Trinitarian nature of God as 'mystical communion or community' becomes an imperative. Finally, I explore the difficult challenge of building community in a culture which is loosing its interpersonal skills to the cult of the individual.
Maybe this will help me get a handle on this whole "postmodern" business that I can't quite figure out.

The other book that caught my eye, is from
Bruce Sanguin, who wrote a book I really enjoyed, Darwin, Divinity, and the Dance of the Cosmos: An Ecological Christianity.

His
latest is...





The Emerging Church: A Model for Change & a Map for Renewal.





I have just glanced through it, but what intrigues me is his use of Spiral Dynamics to help us get a handle on how we understand reality. This theory was developed by Clare Graves and you can read a thumbnail sketch of his theory here. According to this theory, human beings are on an evolutionary path going through stages of psychological and social development. Sanguin quotes Graves at the beginning of chapter five:

"What I am proposing is that the psychology of the mature human being is an unfolding, emergent, oscillating, spiraling process, marked by progressive subordination of old, lower-order behavior systems to new, higher-order systems as man's existential problems change."
Graves proposed eight stages (with perhaps more to come) that emerged as human beings faced different conditions. Here is the chart Sanguin uses that is available as a download. Here are the eight levels:

vMEMEs

COLOR

THEME FOCUS VALUE SYSTEMS

LEVEL 1 (A-N)

BEIGE

SurvivalSense

"ME"

Group bands together
to stay alive

LEVEL 2 (B-O)

PURPLE

KinSpirits

"WE"

The sense of family-tribe
with time honored

LEVEL 3 (C-P)

RED

PowerGods

"ME"

Power-action driven,
egocentric

LEVEL 4 (D-Q)

BLUE

TruthForce

"WE"

Purposeful, absolutist,
"one right way"

LEVEL 5 (E-R)

ORANGE

StriveDrive

"ME"

Entrepreneurial,materialistic,
success-driven

LEVEL 6 (F-S)

GREEN

HumanBond

"WE"

Community,harmony,
equality,relativistic

LEVEL 7 (G-T)

YELLOW

FlexFlow

"ME"

Natural processes, mutual realities; live for mutuality

LEVEL 8 (H-U)

TURQUOISE

GlobalView

"WE"

Harmony, holism, spirituality



You can find this all over the internet. I am not sure what to make of it. Nor do I know how mainstream this theory has become (if at all) in the academic community.

But, it is fun. Sanguin applies these stages to how Christians see Christ. Each Christ has a positive and a negative aspect.

Beginning with Purple--Christ is the Tribal Christ. "He makes the world go 'round when proper ritual is performed....He answers the prayers of those who are obedient." (p. 94)

The negative can be superstition: praying for football victories, parking spots, and miracle cures.


Red--The Warrior Christ. "Followers of the Red Christ go with him into battle on behalf of their tribe, nation, or belief system....In its most positive expression, following this Christ gives us the energy to "fight" for what we believe in--to take a stand."

But,

"The Red Christ led the Christian armies in the crusades. He also led the U.S. army into Iraq." (p. 94)


Blue--The Traditional Christ, a Divine Scapegoat. "As part of the divine plan, God sends his only son to suffer and die on behalf of humanity, modelling sacrifice of self for a future reward....Christ's own sacrifice invites followers to led lives of self-sacrificial love, with the hope of eternal reward.

But...

"...he can be used in a triumphalistic manner. He is the
only truth, the only way, and the only life, and if you don't believe it you're going to hell." (p. 95 emphasis author's)

Orange--The Modern Demythologized Christ and Christ as CEO. "Christ is seen as the human one, a teacher of spiritual wisdom....In its positive expression, the Orange stage helps us transcend the literalism of previous levels....modernist values give us permission to think for ourselves.

I like that! But...

...In its negative expression, the Orange level leaves no room for Spirit." (p. 95)


Here is where Sanguin puts the Jesus Seminar! I suppose I am pretty orange, too. But I want to be Green!

Green--The Egalitarian-Postmodern Christ. "The postmodern Christ embraces multiple cultures and downplays the "Truth" of any particular religious system. The Green Christ draws the circle ever wider, so that it includes the outcasts, the left-behinds, and the marginalized.

I like Green! But...

...In its negative expression, followers of the Green Christ are impatient and dismissive of all other value systems." (p. 96)

Yellow--The Integral/Ecological/Cosmic Christ. "The Yellow, integral Christ encompasses the universe and all cultures as an integrated ecology of systems....Followers of this Christ become fascinated by the world that the new sciences are discovering, and by how this world connects to the core metaphors and narratives of the Judeo-Christian tradition." (p. 96)

Ok, I kinda like that yella Jesus. But...


"...elitist thinking and impatience with those perceived to be 'below' this stage."

Turquoise-The Mystical Christ. "At this level, the world is experienced--not merely conceptualized--as one. A follower of this Christ does not merely perceive the universe an integrated whole. She knows herself to be a form of the integrated whole, the part in whom the whole is manifest. The great diversity of life is also an expression of the Holy One. All of life is sacred revelation, for those with eyes to see." (p. 97, emphasis author)

Well, maybe someday. But I am not there yet. I think I know folks who are, though. But...

"the potential disaster of this stage actually resides in those who have enjoyed mystical states of consciousness (available at every stage), but who confuse these experiences with a stage of consciousness (which are permanent structures in consciousness)." (p. 97-8, emphasis author)

So what do you think about this, Shuck and Jivers? What color is your Christ?



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