This is a series of emails started on August 6, 2012 and they appear in order:
Dear Fellow Presbyterian Leaders,
Perhaps you, like myself, were stunned this past week to see a North Carolina Chicken Farmer and Marketer act as a prophet and claim God’s judgement in a way calculated to bring throngs of people to his business establishments and to concur with his arrogant prophesy and express their fear of their neighbors next door, who are not just like them. It’s a great way to make money, and he even had a strong portion of the political glitterati supporting him.
Religion, Politics and Fried Chicken! Is that right out of the Ole South or what?
In the mean time, established church leaders, including a seeming majority of Presbyterian ministers, remain silent about the real and urgent issues of our times.
Karen and I asked the brilliant Dr. Huston Smith, in our 2006 interview with him, why The Churches had lost their prophetic voice that practically ruled the 60’s and 70’s and much of American history?
Here is the interview: http://www.whatifitreallyworks.com/category/audio-interviews/2006/
Dr. Smith answered that in the middle 70’s The Church wanted to become a part of the culture as a way “to be relevant”, and the culture said “great, come on”…….but the price would be that the church could no longer rock the boat……….and sure enough The Church agreed.
If only the great problem of our day was sexual orientation! Look back over the past 25 years and discover how far we have come in resolving that issue………even in God’s Own Presbyterian Church!
Now look back over the same time period and ask yourself if we have made as much progress in energy creation and climate rescue and lessening the financial inequality of people all over the world.
The false and other prophets can rant all they want gays, but they are remarkably silent about our deteriorating global climate, the domination by the oil industry of our global politics and the resulting military brinksmanship, and the total corruption of the global financial system.
Despite the reluctance of The Church to speak out about the real problems of the day, the clock has been ticking. Seven weeks ago, NATURE Magazine presented a scientific report that stated, without reservation, that we MUST ACT NOW to reverse the damage we have done to our global climate, or we will quickly pass the tipping point of no return.
Recently Karen and I were fortunate to interview Foster and Kimberly Gamble to discuss their movie, THRIVE: What In The World Will It Take?, which has been translated into 18 languages and seen by 6 million people all over the world in the past seven months on the Internet. People are waking up, finally, and as Presbyterian Leaders we can lead The Church to wake up as well……and a needed and critical part of our calling now is our ability and willingness to be TRUE PROPHETS in the face of impending disaster.
Decide for yourself. Here is our interview with Foster and Kimberly and also the THRIVE movie itself:
Take some of your Monday Morning time tomorrow to view these three items and ask yourself if you are fulfilling your true role as a prophet?
You may discover there is an opportunity to join a growing global chorus seeking to honor God’s creation by treating it as Sacred.
As an Honorably Retied Presbyterian Minister and Member of Western Colorado Presbytery I urge you to join me in taking whatever steps present themselves to you to lead those in your care, who are awake and are ready to act, before this last minute opportunity passes us by.
And please feel free to pass this email along to your peers, friends, congregants and even detractors!
I sent the letter to Mike Murray, one of my mentors in the Presbyterian Church, and he responded as follows:
“Chuck: what a great call to action. Thanks for putting it out there.
I was not aware that Huston Smith had identified it with the church’s effort to be “relevant”. That seems somewhat counter intuitive.
My own perception is that society has become so spread along a broad political / ethical spectrum, and our congregations are composed of that entire spectrum, that most pastors are reluctant to take on issues—from stewardship of the creation to the needs of the needy and poor to issues that most folks feel are beyond their capacity to have any influence on whatsoever (e.g. the economic system or the energy system)–that only add to people’s sense of stress and discomfort and challenge.
One of the struggles, I think is, the combination of Seventh Day (rest, shalom, separation from that which is different — which is what God, in a sense, did,—- SABBATH) with the First Day of the Week (Life overcoming death in the Resurrection; Light being separated from Darkness; the Big Bang, if you will, i. e. CHALLENGE).
How do you do both of those in one hour on a Sunday morning? The moment you try you have messed up the experience for someone. In a 24 / 7/ 365 world, people are more in search of the former (Sabbath) than the latter (Challenge). AND, it is probably “spitting in the wind” to suggest that we need two days a week to do the developmental work (dealing with the comfort of the Gospel and the Challenge of the Gospel) of the church!
Again, thanks for sending this out. Mike M.
I replied to Mike as follows:
Thanks for your comments and the opportunity to open a new line of thought.
Here is what Huston Smith said (edited for simplicity) beginning at minute 16 of our 2006 interview with him at The Crossings before an audience of about 80 people:
Question: “Forty years ago churches and ministers were leading discussions of moral issues and resolving them in this country. We were talking about the Civil Rights movement and we were stopping the war in Viet Nam. What’s happened that the church does not have moral leadership anymore?”
Smith: “The churches have just blended into our secular scientistic society and therefore I am overstating to make the point that they have lost their relevance. The Church has been replaced by news columnists who people look to now, and maybe television anchors and networks (such as Fox).
We live in a scientistic society….that means one that is just dominated by science. The mainline churches are part of this society, but science can only access the world of matter, but that is not the only world there is. There are the worlds of God and Spirit, and because Science can’t access it, the the mainline churches, with their seminaries all around universities, and the universities being totally science dominated…..so these scientistic universities create scientistic seminaries. The seminaries all look up to the universities….so the secularism of the university seeps down into the seminaries and it seeps down into the ministers who are trained there. So we are polarized between the no-good fundamentalists who are too dogmatic and the Mainline churches who are dominated by scientistic thinking.”
Here is the total Huston Smith interview:
Mike, you went on to say: “My own perception is that society has become so spread along a broad political / ethical spectrum, and our congregations are composed of that entire spectrum, that most pastors are reluctant to take on issues—from stewardship of the creation to the needs of the needy and poor to issues that most folks feel are beyond their capacity to have any influence on whatsoever (e.g. the economic system or the energy system) that only add to people’s sense of stress and discomfort and challenge.”
That seems to me to be a perfect description of “irrelevant”. So, the former moral leadership of our society is now relegated to tucking everybody in and telling them a nice bedtime story and telling them to go back to sleep.
Stephen Colbert said it perfectly: “But if this is going to be a Christian Nation that doesn’t help the poor, either we’ve got to pretend that Jesus was just as selfish as we are, or we’ve got to acknowledge that he commanded us to love the poor and serve the needy without condition…and then admit that we just don’t want to do it.” (By-the-way. Stephen is a news anchor!)
But there is a better way: In the six years since Huston made those comments, science has suddenly begun to acknowledge that the world of matter is only a subset of a larger system of Consciousness and that Consciousness is the “ground of all being”, or to put it another way, as long as we continue to focus on the things that divide us (i.e. Politics and theology) we will be stuck and asleep.
Consciousness pervades everything and it is the one place of understanding where we can all meet and experience our oneness. People are not challenged by their powerlessness. We are challenged because we know in our hearts that WE ARE ONE and we want ways to experience that. Creating those experiences would be the most powerful form of moral leadership imaginable, and the churches could do that…………and really rock the boat.
The fact is that this expanding experience of waking up to consciousness is happening all over the world and under the radar….especially the Church’s radar.
Here are two prominent scientists, Bruce Lipton, an epigeneticist, and Tom Campbell, a NASA physicist explaining in layman’s terms how consciousness and our experience of it instantly creates oneness:
Mike, I challenge you and the readers of this series of emails to listen to the above interview and then ask yourself:
Does the church really believe it is powerless to exert moral leadership in the face of the most serious challenges facing Humanity’s evolution in all of history?
As for me, I choose to experience the oneness I am with all of creation and I pray the Church will join me, because like me, as the world experiences our oneness, we will never go back.
Thanks for listening. God Bless you.