Cosmic Christ, expanded resources
THE COSMIC CHRIST
Expanded Worship Resources
January 8, 2012
From Rev. Jim Lawrence, "Translating Swedenborg Forward"
Most historians of the nineteenth century would agree that Swedenborg’s reach into cultural thought was probably greatest not from the church doctrinal presentations but from some potent parachurch movements such as
• the utopian movements in nineteenth-century America and late eighteenth- and nineteenth-century France which were inspired by Swedenborg’s writings on the Holy City and on his views of egalitarian relations between the sexes and classes of people;
• the intense conversations generated by Swedenborg’s writings on the afterlife and the reality of the spiritual world that led to spiritualist activities and changes in what people believe about what happens at death, a major contribution still in force today if we accept the annual Gallop Polls on American religious belief which, show that about seventy per cent of Americans are closet Swedenborgians on this teaching;
• Romantic poets and artists (whom we proudly cite on our famous names lists) galvanized by Swedenborg’s writings on the spiritual underpinnings of the natural world and the spiritual dimension for all life;
• the Mind Cure Movement pioneers, the homeopathists, and numerous physical healing and therapy people inspired to act upon Swedenborg’s insights on the spiritual correspondences of human anatomy and the channels of spiritual vitality that maintain human physical manifestation.
It took over a century before anyone noticed that if you read the writings specifically to engage interreligious concerns, you could build an attractive position on religious pluralism in Swedenborg.
It wasn’t a minister who saw this, but the Swedenborgian Chicago lawyer Charles Carroll Bonney—the visionary now credited as the originator of the legendary 1893 World Parliament of Religions, the first great opening of interreligious dialogue not only in the United States but in the world. A Swedenborgian did this by reading Swedenborg in a fresh way in deep dialogue with the world in which he was living. Bonney saw that even though Swedenborg was insistent on the best ways to understand the great ideas of theology, nevertheless personal integrity was still the most important factor governing whether a person was actually regenerating (which meant salvation in traditional parlance). A lot of people were ready to see another way than the theological hair-splitting and church-splitting that had dominated the century, and a new conversation was started that is still growing. Today, I find people in all branches of the New Church proudly wearing pluralism as a Swedenborgian badge of honor—and rightly so, because Swedenborg was profound on this matter and the pieces are there in the writings. But the point I want to make is a history lesson. You have to construct that position out of a small number of passages from an immense body of work to put it together. Swedenborg himself does not spell out a bold and contemporary position on religious pluralism. Yet, a hundred years after the Swedenborgian church began, a sensitive listening to the pulse mind and heart of culture translated Swedenborg forward from scattered references into an articulate spiritual vision that has not stopped yielding harvests of spiritual love and wisdom in complex cohuman communities.
From Matthew Fox, A New Reformation: Creation Spirituality and the Transformation of Christianity.
When science teaches that matter is “frozen light” (physicist David Bohm), it is freeing human thought from scapegoating flesh as something evil and instead reassuring us that all things are light. This same teaching is found in the Christian gospels (Christ is the light in all things) and in Buddhist teaching (the Buddha nature is in all things). Therefore, flesh does not sin; it is our choices that are sometimes off center.
God is only one name for the Divine One; there are an infinite number of names for God and the Godhead, and still God “has no name and will never be given a name” (Meister Eckhart).
Regarding the postmodern cosmological view, the late physicist Dave Bohm said: “I am developing a postmodern physics that begins with the whole.” The word cosmology in fact comes from the Greek word kosmos, or “whole.” Thus a postmodern religion rediscovers cosmology and with it the cosmic Christ or cosmic wisdom tradition. It also relearns prayer from ancient peoples who never abandoned the bringing together of microcosm and macrocosm and body, mind, and spirit as the basis of ritual. It incorporates into its worship dance and movement more than mere text (as is done in the Cosmic Mass liturgy). In many African languages—as well as in Hebrew—the word for dance is the same as the word for breath, and the word for breath is the same as the word for spirit. Postmodern worship and education reject Descartes’s teaching that truth is “clear and distinct ideas” and is therefore found exclusively in the head—as if what we feel in our guts, our hearts, our sexuality, our feet, and through our connection to the earth are not also sources of truth. Another way in which religion responds to the pluralistic aspect of postmodernism is by embracing deep ecumenism and interfaith beliefs. The traditionalists may cry “syncretism,” but the reality is that conquest, domination, elitism, and proselytizing all work together as expressions
Fox, Matthew (2011-11-01). A New Reformation: Creation Spirituality and the Transformation of Christianity (pp. 117-118). Inner Traditions Bear & Company. Kindle Edition.
available at www.thecosmicmass.org. A few years ago, during a workshop I was offering in Florida, I put on some electronic music and invited the participants to dance. Afterward, a sophisticated woman in her forties came up to me with tears on her cheeks, and she told me this story: “I am a practicing Episcopalian,” she said, “and I love my faith, but my eleven-year-old boy can’t come to church with me. When we even come close to the building, his body shakes all over. This has pained me for a long time: the divorce of my son and me when it comes to religion. But in the middle of this dance a voice came to me and said, ‘Here is a way that you and your son can pray together.’ Thus, my tears. They are tears of joy.” In this woman’s words we see what is at stake in moving from modern to postmodern forms of religion: In what language will our children and grandchildren be praying? These are the stakes that call for a New Reformation, a new transformation. In speaking about Martin Luther and the Reformation to groups today, I have learned that very few Latino people know about Martin Luther and the Reformation. After all, it
Fox, Matthew (2011-11-01). A New Reformation: Creation Spirituality and the Transformation of Christianity (pp. 124-125). Inner Traditions Bear & Company. Kindle Edition.