A Light Comes On

April 8, 2008 at 8:14 am 1 comment

It amazes me how little lights come on in my mind and how events seem to synchronize with them.

I was corresponding with a bright young lady last week and she used the term, “indigenous spirituality.” It got snagged for awhile on some plaque ravaged chunk of my brain, but soon sunk in and became an “AHA” moment. Suddenly the sun shone a little brighter and the birds began to sing. I wonder if I should chalk this up to part of the rebirths that seems to happen for me around Easter-time.

I have long held that humanity, as it crawled out onto dry land and became an upright, reasoning animal, developed a belief in some unseen thing that explained why we were here. That, to me, can be called indigenous spirituality and that point is the very basis of every system of spirituality and religion up to this day. It is simple: there is a force somewhere that we don’t understand, but we want to get to know. The more creative following generations were in improving some system that answered the people’s questions, then, the more people adhered to the theory they put forth. Of course, as knowledge increased, theories became debunked and a new order would form. The new order built on the past system by carrying over some of the ritual and liturgy, thus a basic orthodoxy became ingrained. Among the different peoples of the world, different systems sprang up and developed. The evidence is in the number of diverse systems (or traditions) people follow in the world today. Each system is constantly evolving.

Christianity is, I think, just catching up to other, older systems in accepting that there is no single superior belief system. The emerging church is moving people to understand that we are only one of a number of valid belief systems (or theories) that attempt to supply people with answers to that age old question, “Why are we here?”  And that sounds like indigenous spirituality to me.

Native spirituality can also be called indigenous. Of course, we think of them as indigenous people, being the original inhabitants of this land, but their belief system too, is indigenous in the way we have considered above. The native system was isolated as western civilization marched around the world, resulting in a much simpler theory and practice in answering the “Why are we here” question, compared to the materialistic and hierarchical Christian system that came to dominate the western sphere. In a way, we are seeking a return to where our native friends have been for millennia: knowing that there is a creating energy and we, along with everything else in this physical realm, are part of it. It’s not what you believe, but how you live.

This brings me to the second “AHA” this week. I have noticed the word “panentheism” many times on Wondercafé. At first sight, I thought it was “pantheism.” Then I thought it was pantheism misspelled. Then I thought it was a play on pantheism. Well, just today, I decided to find out what the joke was, and I finally looked it up (yeah, I know … but I keep putting off joining Procrastinators Anonymous). Like ‘indigenous spirituality,’ it put a name to a view I hold. It is a combination of “theism” (God is the supreme being) and “pantheism” (God is everything). The result of the penentheism mash-up is, God is greater than the universe, and the universe is contained within God. Check it out on Wikipedia. I think panentheism fits nicely with indigenous spirituality. We are all One with creation.

Heh heh, that thing I call “God” sure has ways to spark a light. Amen.


Entry filed under: Wrestling With God.

Pentecost Winds of Change Spring Has Sprung

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. jandragonfly  |  April 8, 2008 at 8:50 pm

    Dave, you’re AHA moment with big words is interesting.
    God has many names.
    I have a hard time with Borg and Spong.
    My theology is from a child like persective.
    My thoughts are simple and so I find it hard to understand big words.
    I enjoyed how you explained the meaning of the two big words and how it all came full circle.
    Life does that a lot. We think we lost it and it was in front of us all time just waiting for the right moment to be understood.
    Thanks for sharing your AHA.
    I miss you fellow classmate of 2004.


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