The premise of the article was that narratives matter and as we exposed ourselves to ever more varied cultural experience and narratives we would eventually become skeptical of all meta narratives. The ever growing awareness of western, eastern, diverse tribal world views would force me to re-think my own religious and western paradigms. Each world view considered would fall before an even more expansive view until we held nothing 'certain', everything tentative—only what worked would ultimately matter.
What was apparent to me, was that I was in college not for a job or even some employable skill but to discover human wisdom from the beginning of our evolutionary development. Liberal just seemed the inevitable outcome. Jesus would eventually fall before the conflict with science or reason or Buddah. So I reasoned.
Those within my comparatively conservative faith tradition are ofcourse convinced that the Soviet attempt to corrupt my thinking has been fulfilled; The Russians having captured my I-phone from which this blog was started last evening. They'd be wrong however. I've never met Putin or been to Trump Tower and have instead, believe it or not, been led by tthe Holy Spirit to a most liberating, scandaleous descovery. Jesus is the meta-narrative that keeps expanding both within, between and beyond my littl'ol human attempt at world view.
Now, to be sure the same experiences and readings that have shaped me have brought others to a place beyond or perhaps beneath Christendom. Not me. Here's why.
A decade after college I ran into C.S. Lewis and was compelled by the Spirit to read everything he wrote that I could get my hands on. Lewis connected me to older, western ideas, than my college had and to the ancient Church's faith. Around this time I read "Under the Mercy" and "A Severe Mercy" by Sheldon Venaukin. 1 What gave way in my thinking and heart in this time was an
arrogance that all that is worth knowing was written in the last 100 years. In the face of Lewis reasoning and Sheldon and his wife's pursuit of nature's love without God at center I surrendered my own pop-psychology "I'm Okay—You're Suspect" kind of blended attempt to make Jesus over.
At the same time I was introduced to "Whiteheadian" Process Theology and an attempt to place God only within the Cosmos and then reason out to the 'Cosmic Christ'. At it's heart is the idea that every experience in the universe, every explosion of energy from within and beyond a cell, God Is. All life is God's growing and sentient, indeed Personal promise of love, pregnant within matter itself. Process Theology acquainted me with ideas and verbage that connected me with the new Post-modern world view that permeated my experience living on the teetering edge of Modernity and Post-Modernity. From Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon" to Dylan's "Morning has Broken" both the pessimism and hope of the human heart helps me to see in Jesus the very largest and deepest Story.
For the moment (meaning my whole life time), as I continue to pray and think and feel, I will leave to others to live into a Universe that is Co-Eternal with the Trinity of God or what I continue to hold; That God lives intimately within and beyond both time and space. Either way, I'm convinced of one thing: The Jesus Narrative is not exclusive—it is inclusive and universal in it's reach.
To be sure there is a meta-truth, profoundly based upon the Person and Character of the God who Is; Three Persons so interwoven in intimate love as to Be One in Essence or essential nature. Yet within the Trinity's communal existance is a universe or 1000 universes that is discoverable in a creative, intimate way only by sentient beings and especially humans, made in the image of God.
As discovered within the Eastern Orthodox tradition God—Father, Son, Spirit—took an incredible risk in making persons capable of love, the introduction of it's opposite. God has traversed the cosmos in Jesus resurrection to renew all who will grow up into love.
As the Roman Catholic tradition makes clear ours and angelic choice has created a tear deep within God the Father-Son-Spirit that is ultimately resolved for both God and us and the universe in the passion and death of Jesus.
As our Protesting Church's emphasize this Jesus is the Living Word that is to be enfleshed within and between each and all of us who will.
As Buddah explored, all of life is sacred, each person and experience is a treasure of the Divine nature that is the universe itself.
I can go on. I know so very little and tasted only of western European, Samoan, Fillipino and Native American cultural experiences. In each and especially among my friends living in the shadows of American wealth without benefit of rented or owned homes, I have yet to see anything less than faith, deep and real.
Don't mis-hear, I'm not attempting to deny the deep and healthy sceptisicm that fills my young adult friends steeped within the awareness of how power has so misused meta-narratives to destructive and manipulative ends. As we bowed our heads to pray over dinner, such a delightful conversation ensued yesterday about the appropriateness of me, as a grandpa, teaching (indoctrinating) my own grandson within the rituals of prayer, of Amen.
My point is not that 'all roads lead to heaven'. I don't believe that for a second. Nor do I hold all stories as equally valuable. What I have come to is this:
- God is love, and;
- God has incredible respect for human development, questions, wounds, glory, weakness, and;
- God has entered the 'broken spaces' intimately in the Jesus event—life, passion, death, resurrection, ascension of Jesus, and;
- God has saved everyone, taking each/all of our narratives up into the Jesus narrative, and;
- Only those who finally, willfully refuse the God who Is will miss the opportunity to confess with Thomas of old—"My Lord and my God."
1 Note: Books by Sheldon Vanaukin