Shuck and Jive

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

Friday, January 01, 2010

Twenty Ten

It sounds orderly, doesn't it? 2010. Twenty-Ten. It flows off the tongue. It reminds me of a model of a tractor or a weight of oil.

Perhaps during 20/10 we will discover enhanced visual acuity. We will have clarity towards our future.

I do feel differently regarding this first day of 2010 than I did on the first day of 2000. This past decade has changed me in many ways.

Things seem far more fragile now and uncertain than they did ten years ago. I was optimistic in 2000. Optimistic regarding civilization's advance and the human experiment. I used to ask the congregation I served then whether they thought the world was getting better or worse. I would push them on it. Will it be better or worse in 2020 than now? How about 2040? 2070? I was confident that we would be better. We had no choice.

I don't feel the same way today. I am not necessarily more pessimistic. I have a different view of what is "better." I think we are in for some significant changes within my lifetime (unless I die relatively young). But I am not pessimistic about it. In fact, oddly energized.

I often quote Joanna Macy:

The most remarkable feature of this historical moment on Earth is not that we are on the way to destroying the world-we've actually been on the way for quite a while. It is that we are beginning to wake up, as from a millennia-long sleep, to a whole new relationship to our world, to ourselves and each other.
I am not sure I have her faith, but I want to have it. I do believe she is correct about the Great Turning. It will happen whether we want it or not and are prepared or not. Either we will turn consciously and courageously toward sustainability or we will be turned toward much suffering and possible extinction.
The Great Turning is a name for the essential adventure of our time: the shift from the industrial growth society to a life-sustaining civilization.

The ecological and social crises we face are inflamed by an economic system dependent on accelerating growth. This self-destructing political economy sets its goals and measures its performance in terms of ever-increasing corporate profits--in other words by how fast materials can be extracted from Earth and turned into consumer products, weapons, and waste.

A revolution is underway because people are realizing that our needs can be met without destroying our world. We have the technical knowledge, the communication tools, and material resources to grow enough food, ensure clean air and water, and meet rational energy needs. Future generations, if there is a livable world for them, will look back at the epochal transition we are making to a life-sustaining society. And they may well call this the time of the Great Turning. It is happening now.

Whether or not it is recognized by corporate-controlled media, the Great Turning is a reality. Although we cannot know yet if it will take hold in time for humans and other complex life forms to survive, we can know that it is under way. And it is gaining momentum, through the actions of countless individuals and groups around the world. To see this as the larger context of our lives clears our vision and summons our courage.
I have no idea how I will participate in this Great Turning. It appears that the way I currently live is in opposition to it. It is hard to imagine what this change will mean or what it will require from me and what my role as a religious leader will require of me.

I feel mostly like a weather vane, just pointing the direction the wind blows me with little advice, direction, or comfort to offer. At other times I feel comforted by the stories our ancestors told themselves:
  • Moses in the Wilderness,
  • the Risen Jesus waiting for them in Galilee,
  • Allah calling his beloved Muhammad to recite,
  • Krishna showing his divine face to Arjuna,
  • Buddha enlightened under the tree, and so on.
Sometimes the Universe story we are discovering is comforting. The vastness of it all, and the amazing wonder of life itself, and the creativity that arises unexpectedly, unpredictably from crises.

It is an adventure. This is a most exciting time to be alive. This decade that begins today could be the pivotal decade for the human species and our unique role as the consciousness of Earth.

There is no Moses in this new Wilderness.
No Messiah on this cross.
All of us are prophets.
All of us are artists.

We are the ones we have been waiting for. Alice Walker
Blessed Be.