From the time we’re little we begin to construct understandings of how the world operates. When we’re young, we are the center of the universe and everything that exists, exists for us. Maybe you’ve heard the Toddler’s Creed: “If I want it, it’s mine. If I give it to you and change my mind later, it’s mine. If I can take it away from you, it’s mine…. If it looks just like mine, it is mine.” Eventually we learn that the world is bigger than us (and this is a real shock), so our understanding of the world gets deconstructed and we set about reconstructing it to include the new information. This happens over and over again – when we go to college, when we get a job, when we enter a committed relationship, when we have kids, and so on.
This pattern also happens in a larger fashion in churches and society. When the scope is greater like this it is sometimes referred to, as author Phyllis Tickle states, as the “consensual illusion“. It is the “common agreement… among the members of the social unit about how the world works, about how it is to be imaged and thereby understood.” Every so often there are major changes, social advancements, and scientific discoveries that shatter the consensual illusion, thus deconstructing our understanding of how the world works, and forcing us to reconstruct our ideas about the world we live in. We’ve gone through many of these consensual illusion shattering situations in the last 100 years – the automobile, women voting, World War II, Civil Rights and the Equal Rights Amendment, the information age with all of its new technology, and now gay rights. Society’s illusions are being shattered faster than they can be reconstructed.
In the midst of it all, the church has its own consensual illusion of how God and the church work in the world. And, I believe it is possible that the church LEAST appreciates the shattering of its illusion and the need to reconstruct. Realistically, however, the church can not remain untouched in the midst of society’s changes. They can try, and some will stubbornly refuse to recognize that their illusion of how the world worked was just that, an illusion. New paradigms must constantly be constructed so that there isn’t a huge disconnect between how the world works and how God works. I mean, eventually we had to get over the idea that the world was flat and scientists were evil. Right?
At Sacred Journeys we recognize that we are among the ones reconstructing the “consensual illusion” of church. And, instead of being scared (because change is scary for some), we’re excited. As a progressive, inclusive church we are metaphorically proclaiming that the world is not flat, that there is much more out there to discover and we’re hoisting the sails and setting forth. We are yearning to learn and grow spiritually and theologically, while maintaining or revitalizing some of the traditions we hold most dear, like worship and communion. Come, join us. We begin weekly worship this Sunday, September 11, at 10 a.m. at Roma Lodge. Let’s construct this new vision together.