My friend and colleage, John Kirkley of meditatio, has just posted a pithy summation of the real spiritual challenges presently in front of our Church -- and the forces presently arrayed to distract us all from them. Here's an excerpt:
Well worth reading the whole thing. Perspective at this stage is terribly important.
Seriously though, I think there are any number of real threats to Christianity and creation that cry out for our attention. Global warming and climate change is probably number one on the list. While some on the right wing of the Church decry our commitment to the U.N. Millennium Development Goals, what they fail to realize is that this commitment comes from a recognition of the real threats to Christianity, Christian institutions, and, more importantly, the human project on this planet: the poverty, disease, and oppression that destroy the people of God and the earth that sustains us.
If Christ is the Savior of the world, then his Body, the Church, should be committed to Christ's project of saving (healing) that world, no?
Sebastian Moore has identified what I take to be the real threat we face, that which undergirds the maintenance of all the other death-dealing forces arrayed before us: the loss of hope and of community. "The world to which the Christian story no longer speaks," writes Moore, "is a world in which individualism has deadened the nerve of a common hope that has been unforgettably quickened, traumatized, and re-enlivened with the joy of God." (Jesus the Liberator of Desire, p. x)
The is surely true in the West, where our growing consumerism, social mobility and consequent isolation, our very "success" has reduced our world to what we can make, sell, buy, and control. It is a small world indeed, without connection, without mystery, and without hope. Community, and particularly the memory it carries, is the source of hope. The Church, if it is to be about the work of saving, healing, must create communities capable of memory and therefore of hope: the memory of the Forgiving Victim who sets us free from our isolation and fear and obsession to be for others in healing community.