Church and State, part 2

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Last week I gave a simple act that each of us could do that could create a cataclysmic shift in our political system. If enough people simply change their voter registration, our binary, dualistic, two-party, otherness-based system would lose power. It would have to shift it’s story and focus toward the center rather than the poles in order to maintain its feeder base.

This will not likely happen. Like I said last week, church and state exist for themselves and  as soon as a shift started happening, the storytellers would be enacted to place doubt, fear and threat in order to maintain their base.

Our country is divided, but strangely united within either church or state. Make no mistake about it, church and state are the same machine. They work together to validate our binary facade. Within either camp, people find a sense of unity, at least on the surface, and this makes us feel better about life. But its not real unity.

There is no unity without diversity. Would you consider street gangs to share unity? No one is more similar to a blood than a crip. Yet despite this, they cannot find unity despite having very little diversity. Unity is the dissolution of otherness. As I showed you last week, church and state feed on otherness.

Perhaps the most visible display of this shift is occurring within the church. Within most urban areas, less than 30% of the population attends a religious service more than once a month. That figure is in decline at about 1%-2% per year.  The church attributes this to the secularization of the world. This is not really the case. Most of those leaving their religions are still maintaining an undefined spirituality, only a minority are turning to atheism. The fastest growing faith category is not Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, or Buddhist, it is spiritual but not religiousThis is the category where unity and diversity exist in peace.

This is the message found in all mature religions and was the hallmark of Jesus teaching. He didn’t require anyone to leave their religion, but they would have to relearn it in a new way. He modeled a faith that is internally experienced, not externally imposed. It unified all comers by eliminating otherness. But in order to possess this freedom, it will cost us something that we all have-we must trade in the life provided by the system, for our true life, and that won’t happen easily. Let’s not forget that church and state are the powers that put Jesus on the cross.

In order to be united, we must leave our establishments of otherness and enter the exile. It’s a desert place of spiritual, emotional, financial, or relational aridity. The exile is the moment we realize that to truly live we must leave our formative containers. (Jesus said we would hate our own families Luke 14:26). We must be repotted or we risk losing our true self (Luke 9:25) as our roots suffocate us. The ideologies, traditions, and expectations that were given to us by church and state no longer satisfy the questions that have outgrown them. We all go in exile alone, but we each follow a voice that inspires us onward despite the pressures of the herd to return. It’s a well worn path that we walk single file. It is a spiritual path.

On the opposite side of exile awaits our family reunion.
This is always a spiritual process that plays out in everyday experiences. It is how we all grow up and expand our awareness and consciousness.

I know that I am critical of church and state, some might even say harsh. All of our structures are delivery systems and not destinations. These are structures that must go through deconstruction before they can be reconstructed. Richard Rohr says we start with form, then move to deformation, then to reform. The meta-narrative of the bible says we came from a garden, enter a desert and end in a city. Whether personal, societal, or global, we are all in one stage of the process. There is no skipping the deconstruction phase.

So if I come across like a deconstructionist, you must know it is for the purpose of reform. Likewise, our transformed self will emerge in like manner once we enter the exile of our own cross-bearing. I tear down so that people can be free and find their way to the other side. It is the process of reform. The passion story depicts the destruction of the externalized temple. It’s new location is within us all, there is no longer a separation between God and humanity (Mark 15:38, Eph 2:14-17). The picture in heaven is one where NO TEMPLE exists:  bummer for the church. The government is one of inspired self-government:  bummer for the state.

Deconstructing in order to build THE city is what this newsletter is all about.

We never know freedom in the garden, it only points us in the right direction. Our institutions inoculate us and anesthetist us and give us just enough of a life so that we keep the big machine running. I know it’s scary to question them. I know the desert exile is arid, arduous and uncertain. Yet that is where we learn to know and trust the voice that removes us from our formative containers, deconstructs the surface self and ultimately completes us via incremental renewal that is totally worth all the struggle (2 Cor 4:16-17). That is freedom. That is salvation if you can accept the term.

Church and State can only mold us to serve their own end. Like a mold they press us into a particular shape. That works great until we know and trust our own unique shape, then the form stops serving us and starts pinching us. We all go through life trying to discover our shape and we try on different molds of church and state. Fidelity to our true architecture comes at great cost to the old form (external self). It is the death required for life. Only the exile can mold us into the united people that we all aspire to be. It is the path of all of life and faith.

I hope you will see this newsletter as a tool for those in exile who long for reform. It is my hope and deepest prayer that these words reflect a voice that is found deep within you; deep calls to deep (Psalm 42:7). I wish only to be a beacon that sends out our collective message. It is a weekly reminder to all sojourners that we are not finished yet. I yearn to empower that part deep within us that still dreams, still hopes, and still has enough in the tank to take one more step. Our lives and our energy is precious. Let us not waste it on anything but the rebuilding of each other. Learning to live out of love is the only path (1 Cor 13:2).