Updated: Aug 9, 2021
Last night during my moon-forest-walk, I received an urging to continue our nation’s socio-political communication barriers. Our Father-Sun and I bounced reflections off Sister Moon (using the Christian Animism language of St. Francis) 😊). Synchronisticly I recalled Martin Buber speaking out of Judaic Animism as he described an I-Thou relationship with a tree, noting attunement to Her invisible self-organizing center. This deep relationship to the soul center of other beings -- people, animals, trees, rivers, birds and all of creation is the essence of establishing deep relationships that foster communication.
The following poem describes the consequential differences that flow from soul-centered relationships versus from so-called objective relationships:
When Earth Becomes an “It”
hen the people call Earth “Mother,”
they take with love
and with love give back
so that all may live.
When the people call Earth “it,”
they use her
consume her strength.
Then the people die.
Already the sun is hot
out of season.
Our mother’s breast
is going dry.
She is taking all green
into her heart
and will not turn back
until we call her
by her name.
Animism, seeing Soul-Life in others is a perceptual skill, characterizing a developmental stage that all children go through until someone tells them that it is primitive superstition, rather than helping them learn discernment. It is the foundation for knowing a Spirit filled world. [Mark I. Wallace informatively characterizes the predominant animism in the stories of the Old and New Testament in his books, Green Christianity and When God Was a Bird.] The spirit filled worlds of
African religions (Black Sacred Cosmos), American indigenous religions, Jewish and primal Christianity, all share belief in the Spirit-fused sacredness of all creation, the intertwining of the Spirit-world with the everyday material world, the importance of seeking to know the flow of one’s life-purpose through spiritual divination, and belief in a Supreme Spirit, the Creator. In sum, the opportunities for developing soul-centered relationships are everywhere.
To be contributing healers to our broken polity, our understanding of animism needs to be carried beyond individual relationships to the collective energy fields that characterize groups and the pulling magnetism of so-called identity politics. Effectively addressing collective energy fields requires discernment of their organizing center and not getting lost in their individual manifestations. These are the principalities and powers that the apostle Paul called Christians to address and were a primary target that the Old Testament prophets railed against.
Biblical scholar, Walter Wink, wrote several books on the Powers including: Naming the Powers, Engaging the Powers: Discernment and Resistance in a World of Domination. In Wink’s words:
Jesus brought to fruition the prophetic longing for the “kingdom of God”—an expression we might paraphrase as “God’s domination-free order.” Almost every sentence Jesus uttered was an indictment of the Domination System or the disclosure of an alternative to it.
Latin American liberation theology made one of the first efforts to reinterpret the “principalities and powers,” not as disembodied spirits inhabiting the air, but as institutions, structures, and systems. … The Powers are not just physical. The Bible insists that they are more than that (Eph. 3:10; 6:12); this “more” holds the clue to their profundity. In the biblical view the Powers are at one and the same time visible and invisible, earthly and heavenly, spiritual and institutional (Col. 1:15–20). Powers such as a city government possess an outer, physical manifestation (buildings, personnel, trucks, fax machines) and an inner spirituality, corporate culture, or collective personality. The Powers are simultaneously an outer, visible structure and an inner, spiritual reality. Engaging such energy fields happens through discerning encounters with people who are probably at least partially unconscious of the energy field that is animating them.
Organizational and cultural energy fields have the capacity to conscript people’s emotions and labor into evil doings, but they are also part of the Sacred creation. Discerning change agents are called to see the potential good within them that is to be midwifed and actualized as well as the domineering aspects that need to be resisted and overcome.
You are invited to contribute to this moonwalk inspired conversation. Feel free to answer or question all aspects of this topic. Following are some starters –
Why does animism often have a bad name?
What are the invisible energy fields that you have noticed in addition to gravity, wind blowing in the trees, team spirits in sports? :-)
Can you speak to the good and the bad of energy fields that you have known in a corporation or another institution?
Love and best wishes to all, be safe from Covid! Karl
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