Knowledge, we’ve been seeing in these posts, is messy. The Church, on the other hand, likes its truth tidy.
The Church is out of sync in the post-internet world. No longer is knowledge like a light switch; either on or off; knowledge or not-knowledge. We now experience it as an ecosystem; multiple, dynamic, elements, all working interdependently with each other.
Wikipedia’s “talk” page we saw, shows the inner working of this ecosystem, and becomes as important as the conclusions drawn. The way we come to our truths has become as important as the truths themselves.
The Church, still thinking of knowledge as a singular reality passed down through the ages, is having a very difficult time in this new world. Distributing an authorized version of truth doesn’t work any more. It is not a gift people any longer need.
There is a gift the Church has to give; but not that one.
Church leaders are sitting on a rich heritage of spiritual searching. We have centuries of experience hammering out spiritual meaning. It is a rich legacy of thinking through, and shaping narratives. We’ve faced many times of historical, cultural, and worldview upheaval, and each time, have adapted our Story to match.
We know how to navigate worldviews in flux. We’ve done a lot of work figuring out the right questions to ask in search of a spiritual narrative. We’ve had vigorous debate about the answers to those questions.
This messy process we’ve learned along the way… this is a gift we have to give.
However, we don’t seem to want to give it. We seem to want to keep the messiness of our past hidden under tight wraps. We would prefer to give only the authorized answers we hammered out in our fights through the centuries.
But today, our society is in upheaval. This is not a time people need Britannica-certitude kinds of answers. They need Wikipedia-messy-process kinds of answers. And we have them!
Today we need a spiritual version of Wikipedia’s “talk page” showing how spiritual people argued, debated, disagreed, and figured out the right questions to ask about the spiritual life…
- What is God like?
- What’s the deal with Jesus?
- How shall we think about human nature?
- How do we think about the human yearning for redemption and salvation?
Our tradition has a rich legacy of struggling for spiritual meaning. The struggle itself is a gift we have to give our culture in its own time of struggle.
Ours is a messy, argumentative, past that is rich with disagreement. God, and the ways of God, just are messy. We have always disagreed on how best to tell our Story, how best to find our meaning.
However, we are holding back the best gift we have to give.
That’s a shame.
So – this is a “messy” process. Yes. But how many Christians today, in our country and around the world, recognize the need to grapple with a new way to think about religion/spirituality, God, Jesus, the role and teachings of the Church? Is Christian religion just going to die out in many places around the world because the traditional authoritarian “knowledge” is not answering the needs of the people and their spiritual quest – only to be reborn at some later date when the “new” spirituality has finally available to them?