Along the lines of the public speaking adage of “Tell them what you are going to tell them, tell them, and then tell them what you told them” I’m going to try and state my agenda on this blog, Evocation.
Then, I want to try to say why.
It took several days of frustration trying to edit several items I have prepared for this blog, and then finding it took only three minutes and as many paragraphs to write it for a friend.
My agenda: To instigate conversation (or at least thought) on matters of the soul.
Why I have that agenda is because it is my vocation—I really cannot stay silent, it just is not in me to hide what I want to shout from a rooftop.
For many years, I carefully prepared teachings for formal and regularly scheduled settings, receiving a stipend for my work. An unstated “rule” was that all of what was taught was, by necessity, to the lowest common denominator. Apologetics are great fun for me, but only for the purpose of laying a foundation upon which to build. But the good stuff is in the building— something I only was able to do in the rare one-on-one.
The problem with the Church:
Somehow, the Church (by which I mean the gathering of persons of a shared faith) became aimed only at evangelism. Once a person became a part of that gathering, just being there was considered “good enough.”
As a result of merely believing (or wanting to believe just enough to show up) being considered even by leaders as “good enough” there is no place to go to be challenged, led, and directed to more. There are few leaders, fewer teachers, and countless masses of persons who expected it to be otherwise but only found that the shallowest of spiritual living was all that was expected of them.
To many leaders, the solution was to hold fast to the shallowest of the faithful by directing them to then begin to act upon their faith—always outward—never inward.
This method (tending to the least common denominator) is widespread and runs across all denominations. It has produced a vocal and active mass of persons who have virtually no inward spiritual life— that being left to chance and (sometimes, worse) to popular culture. Witness the political intolerant factions among Christian denominations— some politically correct (hate men, hate discipline, hate dogma) and some politically incorrect (hate women, hate gays, hate rules).
Notice how nothing is inward— it is always something outside the self which must be tended to?
I do. I notice. I notice and I know it is wrong.
Perhaps the outward expressions of activity are a result of attempting to protect a very raw soul— a “fortress mentality.” I think so.
But why, then, do we not arm the souls to be ready, willing and able to go out bravely and do heroic things? I fear it is that lowest common denominator. But if you are doomed to dwell only within the walls, then the siege will succeed— your soul will starve within those walls. Your soul may never be subjected to a fierce battle which threatens its existence, but it will also never know the unbounded life for which it was created.
In my life as a contemplative, I have had numerous “spiritual experiences.”
They are difficult to write about because the language of the souls is often a symbolic language. Some of the difficulties that I try to remain cognizant of as I write about them go like this:
If I say “mystic” many will connote “channeling.”
If I write “spiritual” many will connote “Ouija Board.”
If I write “out of body experience” many will connote “stoicism”
If I write of “memories of historical past” many will connote, “reincarnation.”
If I write “meditation” many will connote “eastern oneness.”
If I write “Christian” many will connote “Evangelical.”
If I write “Catholic” many will connote, “Dogmatic.”
If I write of a “Jungian common knowledge” many will connote a “ground of being.”
If I write of “the Bible” many will silently challenge with “missing (or suppressed) books of the Bible.”
If I write of “Creation” many will juxtapose that with “Darwin.”
Such it is that the language of western spirituality, be it Jewish or Christian, has lost control of its own meaning.
And since the Church no longer ventures to concern herself with the inner life of her members, there is little left to talk about— the language has been perverted and the culture no longer has any openness to the spiritual life. Each soul is left to experience its meager existence alone, undirected and undisciplined. No wonder its chief activity involves being protected!
For example, when I write of “Heaven” and many connote, “Harps and Clouds;” I am writing of adventure, beauty, excitement, pleasure (beer and cigars!), intimacy, creativity—all of which Heaven shall be beyond anything I can imagine and as Han Solo said, “I can imagine a lot!”
So, here, in this blog, I write of some of my spiritual journey. Indeed, the word, “my” does suggest a narcissistic endeavor, but that is not my intent. My spiritual journey, I believe will include experiences close enough to those of my readers to prove a commonality and by that commonality, perhaps engage.
I will write (and in fact have written) in this blog about a “language of the soul.” I have learned, as I trust many readers have, some of that language— enough to speak it to some degree of conversational competence. In fact, when I describe myself as a “contemplative” I mean that my spiritual life (i.e., “prayer”) is a conversational series of symbols and experiences. That is the language. St. John of the Cross taught St. Theresa and the both teach us. It is ancient, but it is also our language.
This blog, then, is written in that language.
“Mission City” posts are of what I am careful to refer to as “vision dreams” which I have experienced over the course of my life— some of my earliest memories of childhood include these. I have common dreams as we all do. I have common spiritual experiences like many recognize. “Vision dreams” are distinctly spiritual and from without. After fifty years of such experiences, I am convinced that they represent the spiritual reality which is more real than the physical reality because the soul is able to know both the physical (material and temporal) and the spiritual (which includes the invisible and eternal). These are the soul’s experiences of my temporal life—the challenges, adventures, and purposefulness which is sometimes hard to perceive when distracted by temporal concerns. “Mission City” is a subset of my spiritual writings because they are distinctly thematic.
A word about academics. I am often tempted to refer to academic sources (texts) which undergird or perhaps are presumed by what is written. I most often resist that temptation. I crave scholarship, but scholarship is not my intent; rather disciplined wisdom, I hope is what I strive to achieve here.
I much prefer a meaningful conversation with a friend over a beer, and that is how I get to write, here.