One of the really heroic transitions on the way to living in the Kin-dom of God is the move from living with the consciousness of an ADULT to the consciousness of an OUTLAW.
I wrote a little about this in a previous blog. Normal human development is from CHILD to REBEL to ADULT to OUTLAW to LOVER to the Consciousness of Christ.
The ADULT world is full of rules and roles, creeds and codes, doctrines and dogmas and while we are living there our consciousness is immersed in the conventional world defined by the core collective beliefs of our people. If our people are Red Sox fans, then we are Red Sox fans for all the good reasons our people proclaim. If our people are good evangelical Christians, or good Sunni Muslims, then we are one of them, and one with them.
Until the OUTLAW emerges, which often happens after an experience of grace that intrudes and reframes what is “right” and what is “wrong.” The OUTLAW is called on a vision quest, a time in the desert, a time away from home, a time of profound and unsettling wonderment.
If our people act like jerks, they punish us for our wonderment. They might even kill us.
If our people act like sweethearts, they support us. They may not endorse us, but they are interested in what we are learning as we wander from the path.
Rumi wrote, “Straying marks the path.”
When the OUTLAW strays, the path is revealed. No longer content with the rigidity of the rules and roles, creeds and codes, doctrines and dogmas, the OUTLAW strays and thus finds the path onward and upward.
The Jerks I’m talking about are not the Steve Martin type, but those who believe their perspective is the only right one and that everyone else’s is wrong. This is a hallmark of “First Tier” consciousness. More on that in another blog because it is “Second Tier” consciousness that really begins to mark the emergence of the Kin-dom of God. Jerks, the really certified ones, are those who killed Jesus, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Oscar Romero , Gerry Crane and all the others.
Sweethearts are those who are open to learning about another’s perspective. They tend not to trounce on it, but to support the wonderment that nourishes it. Sweethearts value OUTLAWS, but can be so accepting and tolerant as to be spineless.
Now I must be honest with this. I’ve been a huge Jerk to myself and to others. I’ve also been a bit of a Sweetheart to myself and to others. The Jerk in me is afraid to be vulnerable, afraid to look and act improperly, and spews words of shame on my wondering and wandering OUTLAW. The Sweetheart in me says, “Go ahead. Remember, God is Graceful.” That, I know, can lead to excesses.
On the way to the Kin-dom of God we must become OUTLAWS, and when we do we will hear from within, and from without, the voice of the Jerk… and the Sweetheart.
Act boldly and keep going.
When does the Jerk in you silence the OUTLAW in you, and in others? And when does the Sweetheart in you support the OUTLAW in you, and in others?
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Check out the delightful essay by Eric Schwitzgebel, who is a professor of philosophy at University of California Riverside. His essay is titled "A Theory of Jerks."
Sam Keen is the author of numerous books, one of which is The Passionate Life. In that book he presents the human journey from CHILD to REBEL to ADULT to OUTLAW to LOVER.
True story. Last weekend we were in Hart near our Shack in the Woods. We went in for the festivities surrounding the annual Asparagus Festival. As I said, this is a true story, and our part of the planet is called the “heartland” of America for a reason!
Every year in one Oceana County village or another, there is a craft fair. Booths are set up in rows and each vendor, under a protective canopy, pedals their mostly hand-crafted wares. In one booth I came upon a husband and wife who were selling fossilized stones. Some were made into necklaces, and some were just designed to be bookshelf art. One piece caught my eye and I bought it. You can see it pictured below. It is a fossilized ammonite.
This piece caught my attention because I had just read Chapter IV, “The Luck of the Ammonites,” in Elizabeth Kobert’s challenging book, The Sixth Extinction. In this Chapter, the author explains how ammonites existed all over the waters of the earth between 300 and 65 million years ago. They all disappeared from the sulfurized waters of our planet after the worst day Earth has ever experienced. On one particular day about 65 million years ago a meteor dropped in on Earth from a low angle, south-to-north, slamming into Earth just off the Yucatan Peninsula. Kobert writes:
On an otherwise ordinary day sixty-five million years ago, an asteroid six miles wide collided with the earth. Exploding on contact, it released energy on the order of a hundred million megatons of TNT or more than a million of the most powerful H-bombs ever tested. Debris, including iridium from the pulverized asteroid, spread around the globe. Day turned to night, and temperatures plunged. A mass extinction ensued. “Basically, if you were a triceratops in Alberta, you had about two minutes before you got vaporized,” is how one geologist put it to me.
Along with the dinosaurs, the ammonites were eliminated. Extinct.
But the gentleman who sold me this 65 million year old fossilized ammonite said he didn’t believe in evolution. His wife said she didn’t either. Upon inquiry from me, he said, “How can we know what happened when we weren’t there?” She said, “I believe in a Big Creator.” Amazingly, the incongruity of it all seemed to escape them.
Yet, they are right!
With my gentleman vendor, who denies the science of evolution, I want to affirm the ineffable mystery of the Wholeness of Reality. Science is right, but science alone gives us a partial explanation. We need the facts, the data, the results of tests and experiments. But, if we trust only science without the personal experience to go with it, we are likely to end up in a heartless place. Those who reject scientific explanations are likely those who are advocating something with more meaning, more passion, and more heart.
With my lady vendor, who finds it hard to believe that the evolutionary process is God at work, I want to affirm the intentionality of the Wholeness of Reality. There is direction, purpose, and meaning to this cosmos within which we dwell. Without the mythology, without the story that answers the Why did this happen? question, everything is heartless.
Both the gentleman and the lady could not embrace evolution, in spite of the evidence they were selling in their booth.
But science is the truth. 65 million years ago we got slammed and everything that exists today evolved somehow from the stuff that survived that horrible day and the very long dark winter that followed.
He had a map. She had a map. The little piece of paper they gave me to explain my fossilized ammonite had yet a different explanation. Three different maps.
They are all right, and they are all partial.
Maps that are only full of scientific truth, but which lack passion and purpose and spirit, are right - but partial.
Maps that are only full of human stories and interpretations, but which ignore the scientific facts, are right - but partial.
In the Kin-dom of God we embrace the deep stories of our common humanity while also being kin to the observable scientific truths that have been consensually verified.
In the Kin-dom of God we embrace the warm heart AND the cold facts. Both.
Do you tend to side with your warm heart or the cold facts when it comes to the reality of God at work in the world?
This is my third blog post, and in these early postings I'm setting the footing below the foundation of our journey to the Kin-dom of God.
We live with "Maps of the Territory" and those maps can be changed in a moment in time when some new awareness breaks through into our consciousness. In my first post there was a painting..."This is not a pipe." In my second, we visited the new research that says we are not as rigidly determined by our genes as we all had been taught; through our thoughts, feelings, and actions we are always modifying our genetic structure. We influence the reality of our own life.
Now, I want to introduce the well documented process of Normal Adult Development. To do so, I'll write it out in brief, but I've also created a 8-minute video. Those of you who have visited with me in my office know that I am forever getting up and drawing on the whiteboard. You might recognize this presentation.
Normal Adult Development is a process of moving from being a dependent CHILD, to a counter-dependent REBEL, to a co-dependent ADULT, to an independent OUTLAW, to an inter-dependent LOVER. From my perspective, this is the normal adult developmental process that is available to us all as we evolve toward having the Consciousness of Christ.
Note that I misspoke in the video. "Christ" is so often used to refer to Jesus of Nazareth that I, too, goofed up and referred to Christ as Jesus. Let me be clear - Jesus of Nazareth's consciousness evolved and his became the Consciousness of Christ. "Christ" is the Greek word for the Hebrew word Messiah, which means "the Anointed one of God." There is just so much more to explore in all of this.
For now, the point I want to make is that it is normal for you to evolve your consciousness. Stages of life emerge on their own, and if we are "open and available," as my old friend Dr. Carl Schroeder helped me to realize, the next one-half-step will be right there in front of you.
The impulse to take the next step, to evolve, to follow the normal path of adult development, is built right into us by our Creator.
With each step the map of the Territory gets bigger and bigger, with more depth and with a wider and wider embrace.
Built into you is the process of normal adult development. This is a fact. CHILD to REBEL to ADULT to OUTLAW to LOVER... and beyond. We are each called to go with that flow. It leads to the Kin-dom of God.
Where are you on this normal journey of adult development? Where have you been, where are you now, and where do you want to go next?
Remember, St. Paul wrote, "Now we see but a poor reflection; then I shall see face-to-face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully even as I am fully known."
Do you know that you have been called to be a LOVER... and more?
Sam Keen has written a number of books, and the one I'm referring to here is THE PASSIONATE LIFE. I've participated in three weekend workshops with Keen and appreciate his journey from within the Reformed tradition out and beyond. I have great memories of very brief encounters with him.
Ken Wilber's book INTEGRAL PSYCHOLOGY outlines 100 developmental models. In fact, he aligns them all indicating that there is a normal adult developmental process in many lines.
“When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. But when I became a grown up, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection; then I shall see face-to-face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully even as I am fully known.”
Saul of Tarsus, who became known as Saint Paul after his conversion, wrote those descriptive words in his first letter to the Church at Corinth. It was Saint Paul’s map of the Territory that prevailed three decades after Jesus’ life and death, beating out the maps that others were creating, especially the map that emerged around Jesus’ brother, James the Just.
Saul’s map of the Territory changed so much through his conversion experience that he was born again, as it were. A huge shift took place in his consciousness, and with that in his behavior. He put childish ways behind him.
It all happened, as the story goes, in a moment of time.
Let me give you another practical, relevant, and timely example from the world of science of how perceptions, of how maps evolve. The story below really heightened my awareness of my responsibility for my own body. Maybe it will for you, too.
The decades old scientific map, which you and I are even yet taught, that our genes are fixed and static and that each of us is determined to live out our lives as dictated by our genes, that old map is evolving. My former business partner believed that he had inherited his mother’s genes for long life and so he consciously lived robustly and carelessly until it all caught up with him at the age of 59 on a Monday morning in 2007. He should have followed the new research and continued to evolve, but he made his choices, thus proving the fact that the old map of static genetic determination was insufficient.
"The new model, however, portrays a more fluid, dynamic genome that responds quickly, even instantly, to all that we experience, including how you think, feel, speak, and act. Every day brings new evidence that the mind-body connection reaches right down to the activities of our genes. How this activity changes in response to our life experiences is referred to as “epigenetics.” Regardless of the nature of the genes we inherit from our parents, dynamic change at this level allows us almost unlimited influence on our fate. Theories of evolution and genetics have long taught that genetic mutation is entirely random. However, genetics has been gradually stepping into a new era of “self-directed biological transformation,” a mouthful perhaps, but with great significance in each word:
· Self-Directed: Voluntary activity in your thoughts, feelings, habits, and desires. This is the realm of personal choice
· Biological: Effects at every level of the mind-body system, including reactions by your genetic material
· Transformation: Major shifts in cellular activity leading to physiological changes
This means that control is being given back to each person; we are no longer seen as puppets of our DNA. The human genome is set to be the stage for future evolution that we ourselves direct, making choice an integral part of genetics. This is in stark contrast to the “biology as destiny” view where genes override choice. Unless decisions, lifestyle, environment, and personal preferences are included, a full picture of the mysteries of our DNA cannot be attained.
This is a perfect example of how the map isn’t the territory. The wiring of your brain is ever changing, depending on your thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and habits."
The map you have right now, the one that you are using to navigate through your life, is a map that can be expanded and made to be more useful. As you have grown there have been transformative moments that have broken through into your life. Those moments woke you up and your map was enlarged. Such is a normal part of being a conscious human being.
The Kin-dom of God is near at hand. In fact, it is here all the time if we but wake up to it. Life changing events are happening all around us and within us – and they are happening all the time. Wake up to the Kin-dom and realize your interconnectedness with everything that is, even the tiny, tiny genes that give form to your life. Wake up and realize that how you live impacts the genes that give form to my life, to your children’s lives, your neighbor’s… everyone’s.
What have been your great moments of awakening? Recall them now as the gifts of enlightenment they were from a loving God… and share the story again with someone. Meister Eckhart, the Dominican preacher from around 1300, simply called them “breakthroughs.” We share all sorts of dumb stories with each other. Be bold and share a breakthrough story with someone you care about. It will evoke wonder in them, and that would be good. It would be good for your genes, too!
Michael Dowd, in his book Thank GOD for EVOLUTION, defines God as “The Whole of Reality.” That is his map of the Territory.
The quote from Corinthians comes from Chapter 13, verses 11 and 12, which comes just before this: “And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
Deepak Chopra and Rudolph Tanzi have written in their book Super Brain about how the map of the Territory has changed in the science of genetics. The quote above comes from their recent blog post.
Meister Eckhart was a great preacher and mystic. His message has been re-vitalized by Matthew Fox who has written about Eckhart's Creation Spirituality. More on that in a future blog post.
“The map is not the territory.”
These words struck my consciousness with immense power. That awakening initiated a continuing struggle to deconstruct the map of my beliefs from the territory of the Whole of Reality.
For more than a decade of education and training, I had been taught to use a map that had been handed down by generations of good and faithful people. It was a map full of codes and creeds, rules and roles, doctrines and dogmas. It was a map of theology, of the study of God. Publicly, way back in 1973, I stood before a group of men and confessed that I believed the map that I had been taught was without error. I was quizzed and tested to make sure that I knew the map well and that I could teach the map faithfully to those I was to lead.
But then I read those words, “The map is not the territory,” in Bandler and Grinder’s book The Structure of Magic, and a whole new world opened up to me.
The expression, I’ve learned, was first used by Alfred Korzybski in 1931 in a paper he delivered to a meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in New Orleans.
Richard Bandler and John Grinder, from whom I received substantial training in the late 1970’s, grabbed the phrase and made it an underlying principle of their own work. From them I learned that we all have constructed maps, or sets of beliefs that orient us, and they are full of generalizations, distortions and deletions. We do not, they claimed, have access to reality itself. The map is not the territory.
Rene Magritte captured this message in his famous surrealist work, The Treachery of Images. The caption below the pipe reads, “This is not a pipe.”
That one three-letter word, G O D, is itself a map of a territory that is, as William James said, "ineffable." That is, God is too great to be mapped.
Kingdom of God.
That is another map, and it was a map of a vision that Jesus had of how we should all be living together. He gave his life for that vision. We might say that Jesus had a vision and a mission, to bring the Kingdom of God into reality.
In fact, we know very little about the human being Jesus of Nazareth. The maps that emerged about him have been confused with reality. Nonetheless, he is truly someone worth believing in.
And so is his vision.
However, on this side of Columbus and the spaceship Voyager, we need an updated map. I’m calling it the Kin-dom of God, a phrase that makes at least three distinctions.
The map that I was taught, the map of the Kingdom of God, is old and outdated and needs to be refreshed so that it speaks with more relevance about how to live well in this age where we know so much more about the Territory of the Wholeness of Reality.
What is your map of God? Of Jesus? Of the Kingdom of God? Of the Wholeness of Reality?
As was mentioned in the newsletter, Michael Dowd's book will spur on much of our conversation. He presents refreshing new maps that will be, at least in part, the subjects in this blog. If you want something to read between now and then, grab his book. You can also go to his website where there are videos and much more.
Onward and Upward!
Andy Atwood's Blog on an Evolutionary Faith and the "Kin-dom of God."
What would today's God-talk sound like if it no longer was based on ideas and beliefs that were created during times long, long ago when everyone still thought the earth was flat?
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