Thursday, February 18, 2010

Harvey Cox and the Age of the Spirit

I ran into an article on the Guardian UK by Mark Vernon talking about Harvey Cox’s latest book The Future of Faith. I had to step back for a moment and say to myself, is Harvey Cox still alive? It has been over forty years since my sophomore religion teacher read and quoted Cox out of The Secular City back in those heady, positive, hopeful post Vatican II days of true, attempted by many in the RC church, Ecumenical Spirit.
Harvey Cox
Cox became widely known with the publication of The Secular City in 1965. It became immensely popular and influential for a book on theology, selling over one million copies. Cox developed the thesis that the church is primarily a people of faith and action, rather than an institution. He argued that "God is just as present in the secular as the religious realms of life". Far from being a protective religious community, the church should be in the forefront of change in society, celebrating the new ways religiosity is finding expression in the world. Phrases such as "intrinsic conservatism prevents the denominational churches from leaving their palaces behind and stepping into God's permanent revolution in history" (p. 206) can be viewed as threatening to the status quo, and for some an embrace of the social revolution of the 1960s.
I guess I must have been listening to Father Calvert. My own secular cultural Christian outlook seems similar with the excerpt quoted above.

I have not read any other religious works of Cox. I am not a theologian. I have spent much of my life within the context of a secular world where the religion of my youth no longer seems to function in a reality, to me, setting. To quote the sixties – “if it feels good, do it” – and if it does not feel right, ignore it or get rid of it.

No doubt Mr. Cox, retired now from Harvard Divinity School, has been doing a lot of thinking and filling in the gaps for us in the interim, still serving his gift of words in the pursuit of a meaningful understanding and relationship with the Creator.

Harvey Cox’s book The Future of Faith seems to be on the mark to dissect minimally and refresh the religious conversation so long dead in this country at least. I cannot speak for other countries.

Cox divides Christianity in three Ages.

The first is the Age of Faith which is the early Christians in direct and intimate contact with Jesus. The writings of Paul are there not for everyone but custom tailored to each geographic setting of many individual churches and centers of Christian faith.

The second Age is the Age of Belief whereby Constantine and his regimes that followed standardized what you had to believe in order to be a conforming good Christian.

The third and current Age since the Reformation is the Age of the Spirit. Indeed, today.

Anarchy in the age of the spirit
But his snapshot of the contemporary religious scene is unapologetically taken from the mountaintop, and it is also unapologetically optimistic. Cox recognises the risks associated with some of the features of the age of the spirit – its fundamentalism, say, or the prosperity gospel. But he argues they can't last. They are essentially reactions against modern biblical scholarship, which means "a religion based on subscribing to mandatory beliefs is no longer viable". Hence the emphasis on the spirit. Neither does he worry that Christianity today so often feels like a Jesus-centered personality cult. Rather, Pentecostalism is a positive force, part of "an inexorable movement of the human spirit whose hour has come".
I am not too certain about the Pentacostal thing – but it does represent energy – which is the future. Perhaps if a hardcore hold on the book, which is the foundation of the Age of Belief overlapping into the Age of Spirit, becomes secondary to the Spirit as it was in the beginnings of Christianity, the future of Christianity could be quite interesting and exciting.

Perhaps if in this Age of the Spirit, we could all have more user friendly religious situations. Perhaps the old fashioned Town Square will once again appear in America out of a patchwork of city blocks and neighborhoods bonded, cohesive, caring, loving - a home for groupings of individuals and more. The world would then be truly a more wonderful place in which to live.

Eight Haiti "Missionaries" Back on US Soil

Here is an update on the ten Baptist untrained, unprepared, civil disobedient missionaries and their quest to blindly save orphans and or Haitian children in general.

The judge in the case has released the eight least guilty of the lawbreakers and sent them home. They have arrived in Miami via U.S. Military aircraft on their way home to Idaho.

American missionaries jailed in Haiti return to US

The ringleader, Laura Silsby, and her employee, a native Haitian, have been kept behind in Haitian custody to determine what did they do, who did they talk to etc. on a December 2009 scoping out trip to Haiti before the big earthquake.

All things considered, I think the Haitian Justice System, rattled by earthquake damage, has functioned admirably in dealing with this case of child trafficking from invading, law breaking Baptist missionaries on a mission for God and their own egos.

I hope that this inconvenience to pie in the sky religious from Idaho has done some good for the children of Haiti who seem here to be victims of these “well intentioned” Baptist missionaries.

I hope that hundreds and thousands of Haitian children have avoided the sharks and predators in the waters and boundaries of Haiti from the likes of the free alledged pimp, human trafficking, unlicensed “lawyer” who stepped forth to take advantage of the Silsby Rambo missionary expedition and their moral and legal problems.

Bravo Haiti!

While I think Laura Silsby is at the very least an unfocused and confused individual, I do not yet think her a total villain. Only time will tell with the ongoing investigation by Haitian authorities.

Mount Vernon Tea Party with Ed Meese

The who’s who of the crooks from the Ronald Reagan years of government retardation, deregulation and outsourcing for profit only for your crony buddies - a group of fat cat white Republicans - met at George Washington’s old slave plantation as an appropriate setting to unveil their sole claim at being so-called Conservatives and trying desperately to claim lineage from William F. Buckley Jr. They met to sign a symbolic document, symbolic of the setting – The Mount Vernon Statement.

Can a New Conservative Manifesto Woo the Tea Party
...on display Wednesday, Feb. 17, when on the eve of the Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC) conference in Washington, more than 80 conservative leaders gathered on the grounds of George Washington's former Virginia estate to unveil a manifesto reaffirming the movement's beliefs.
Like a bunch of heroin addicts or flies and insects on a corpse, in fact Reagan's corpse, the Regan fat cats can’t get enough of free government funding either by no-bid, no-show government contracts or by tax free “non-Profits” that are conduits for cash from all over the planet to enslave the American Government in special interest only concerns.

The Tea Baggers have started a ground work movement, not unlike the grunt patriots who shed blood in the American Revolution but got Jack Shit afterwards with the Washington, Adams, Hamilton, Jefferson fat cat club of that day and age.

First signer on this so-called Mount Vernon Statement is no-show to justice Ed Meese, a one time supposed Attorney General under the emperor god Ronald Wilson “B Film/Hollywood actor” Reagan.

Briefly saw the document on line but it has been pulled. The first two signers online were “Adolph Hitler” and one “Joe Dufus” according to Christian Science Monitor.

Mount Vernon Statement: A fake Hilter outdid conservatives online

I can't make this stuff up better than that. Perhaps they got the part time no benefits temp from Fox News to set up the website? You know, the temp who is always putting film of millions of people on the Mall in D.C. whenever there is gathering of ten or more tea baggers.

I cannot quote exactly, but besides all the usual boilerplate nineteenth century rhetoric about freedom isn’t free or some such similar nonsense, now offline, they were calling for “true Religious liberty” What the hell does that mean?

Tax-free voodoo is one thing. You mean we are going to have to do back to the middle ages and pay taxes to the churches again – that on top of the taxes we already pay to our dysfunctional national joke – our national government - the true Ronald Reagan legacy of the CINO "Conservatives in Name Only" movement???