Rethinking the Human Narrative

Ah, it seems like it’s been so long since I’ve sat here by you, chatting.  We mustn’t do this again–this whole neglecting our conversation thingamajig.

I’ve just returned from Colorado Springs, where I met a group of amazing and wonderful people who are eager to collaborate in some way.  [I won’t go into details here, but rest assured that I will do so in the near future, as soon as I can figure out the exact terms of collaboration.]  Can I just say it is freeing and exhilarating to be with others whose minds are whirring and whizzing in new and different ways?  The connections…the discussions…are enough to make my head explode.  I told Dan yesterday afternoon, when I had a chance to fill him in on all the details of the trip, that I felt I needed a shot of brain anesthesia, just to shut it up for a while.  It really is quite overwhelming.

In the midst of my descriptions about the weekend, Dan held his hand up (as we’ve taught Liliana to do when she wants to interrupt).

“Yes,” I said, playing along.

“This is the first time I’ve seen you this excited in a very long time,” he said.  “I’m just making an observation.”

I nodded, and promptly began talking again, and didn’t come up for air until the sun was setting behind the trees.

I can’t even begin to explain to you…yet…what it is (exactly) that is changing inside of me.  But I can start telling you piecemeal, so that you can hear and see how my journey (life, spiritual…whatever you want to call it) is zipping along at an encouraging (but sometimes alarming) rate. What you and I will talk about in the upcoming months completely obliterates the paradigm of religion as you and I know it.  It makes God accessible to absolutely everyone. Yep, you heard me correctly.  Everyone.

What you and I will discuss, if you’re up for it, is what damage has been done to first century history (the years leading up to and following Jesus’s stint on earth).  To rectify it, it’s as simple as erasing your well-indoctrinated brain to reread the words of Jesus differently.  [And when I say simple, I mean simple, but simple does not imply that it won’t cause immediate discomfort or confusion.  Or cries of heretic!]

Is your interest piqued?

Today, let’s begin with a baby step.

Let’s look how we can re-envision the human narrative–socially.  Some of you are already thinking along these lines.  Others of you may be learning something new.  That’s okay.  We’re just throwing ideas around, seeing which ones make sense, which ones are not working intuitively.  [Trust me, we won’t be relying only on instinct, although it’s a good place to start.  There’s good stuff to back all this up!]

Jeremy Rifkin is a bestselling author, a political advisor, and somewhat of a social and ethical “prophet” who–in the piece above–discusses the evolution of empathy in our society.  [Such a worthwhile 10-minute talk.  Watch it.  It’s even illustrated for your viewing pleasure.]

Cliff Notes: We are soft-wired for empathy.  That’s how our brains work.

Way back when, when we were made up of of local tribes, we stuck together by blood ties, and assumed everyone else was “them.” Later, we began to extend our family affiliations to religious ties.  Christians congregated with Christians, Jews congregated with Jews, and so on.  Even later, during the Industrial Revolution, the Nation State arose, where Americans connected with Americans…and so on.  You can see how our vision of “family” has gradually extended to include more and more people.

The question is now: Is it too big a stretch to think that we might extend our empathic tendencies to our fellow creatures (animals), the human race, and even the biosphere?  If the answer is no, then we’re in trouble.  If the answer is yes, then we might be able to rethink the human narrative where we can see our fellow humans as fellow sojourners, and wouldn’t that be an amazing place to be?

This is where I’m leading you…to the possibility that this extending out includes the realm of “religion” or how we think about God and our relationship to Him…and how we think of “others.”

And if all of this seems entirely mundane and boring to some of you, that’s okay, too.  The implications of what I’ll be trying to explain (as clearly as possible), though, are not humdrum at all.  You’ll either be calling me a heretic, or you’ll be stunned why we haven’t been thinking along these lines for the last 2000 years.

I guarantee you.  If you want to think more broadly than you’ve ever done before, I won’t disappoint.  If you want to ask questions you’ve never asked before, I’m here to discuss them.  My desire is discussion that will raise more questions, not discussions that end on a I’m-Right-You’re-Wrong sort of stalemate.  That helps no one.

Are you ready, my fellow sojourners?  Buckle yourself in, because it’s going to get wild and crazy.  And that’s a good thing.  Promise.

[Post image: Jeremy Rifkin]

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The quote I live by

Have patience with everything that remains unsolved in your heart. Try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books written in a foreign language. Do not now look for the answers. They cannot now be given to you because you could not live them. It is a question of experiencing everything. At present you need to live the question. Perhaps you will gradually, without even noticing it, find yourself experiencing the answer, some distant day.
--Rainer Maria Rilke in Letters to a Young Poet

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