A religious imaginary is how we imagine or envision God, humanity and planetary life. To change the religious imaginary is to change the way we tell the story about religion, including its beliefs and practices. The new science, with evolution and quantum physics as the primary pillars, has evoked a new religious consciousness of interrelatedness, a new sense of wholeness, and a new understanding of life in evolution… In the 21st century, to be religious is to be devoted to care for the earth and care for the poor, whether or not, one prays or goes to daily Mass. God is worthy of our worship and worship is how we devote ourselves to God and express our commitments.
To be involved with the earth is itself a religious dimension of life, a form of prayer. Contemplation is no longer simply withdrawing from the world and ascending to God; now it is expressed in action for social justice, for the equality of races, the inclusion of all genders, attention to the extinction of species, practices of restraint in the name of global warming. To “ascend” to God is to move toward God, who is no longer in a spiritual plane “above”; in the new religious imaginary, God is among and between, around and within, a God who calls us from the material world to listen to the groans of matter, to be formed by the movements of matter and to act as if matter really matters… To work out our salvation is to be committed to care for the earth, that is, all creaturely life, including humans; to aim for heaven is to devote oneself to the wholeness of planetary life. This is not pantheism; this is Christian realism in a world of evolution and quantum physics.
Behold I make all things new, Do you not perceive it?
What story is the “imaginary”of your religious practice? Have you read or heard another story? How does your belief system square with what we now know from science? Have you seriously thought about the impact of our present knowledge on theological and liturgical life? Make it a goal to do some research through reading and reflection.
And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the new wine will burst the skins and it will be spilled out, and the skins will be ruined. But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins.
But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.
2 Peter 3:13
It’s all a question of story. We are in trouble just now because we do not have a good story. We are in between stories. The old story, the account of how we fit into it, is no longer effective. Yet we have not learned the new story.
When you are confronted by evidence that the faith in which you were brought up no longer provides an adequate explanation for the nature, meaning and purpose of your life, you have three choices. You can refuse to accept the evidence and continue as before. You can abandon the faith you grew up with, because it has proved to be inadequate. Or, third, you can accept the new knowledge and use it to develop a more mature understanding of what lies at the core of your beliefs.
The ultimate source of all that is, the support and well of being, is Ultimate Generosity. All being comes forth and shines, glimmers and glistens, because the root reality of the universe is generosity of being. That’s why the ground of being is empty: every thing has been given over to the universe; all existence has been poured forth … because Ultimate Generosity retains no thing.
I think every discovery of the world plunges us into jubilation, a radical amazement that tears apart the veil of triviality.
Once the scales have fallen from one’s eyes, once one has seen and believed that reality is put together in such a fashion that one is profoundly united to and interdependent with all other beings, everything is changed. One has a sense of belonging to the earth, having a place in it along with all other creatures, and loving it more than one ever thought possible.
We feel the ground slipping from beneath our feet, and we want to hold on and stay in control. And so we organize and define (that is, put limits around) what first moved freely within us, flowed out of us, and motivated our action. We also dismiss, with varying degrees of harshness, what does not fit into the pattern we so painstakingly created for our God experience.
Everyone has to have a spirituality and everyone does have one, either a life-giving one or a destructive one.
God is always bigger than the boxes we build for God, so we should not waste too much time protecting the boxes.