Christian Spirituality Blog

We understand Christian Spirituality to be the practice of the presence of God in daily life.  As such it includes both the mundane and the mystical dimensions of Christian faith and practice.  This Blog is intended to provide thought provoking information and discussion in the categories of Christian Spirituality, Spiritual Direction, Sacred Psychology, Interfaith Relationships, Peacebuilding, Spirituality/Religion, and Book Reviews of interest. 

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The following article is excerpted from the forthcoming book by James L. Foster, Holonic Humanity: How God Makes Us Holy, due to be released in 2017.  It is a sequel to his earlier work, Holy Humanity:  We Are All Made of God Stuff, published in 2013.  The latter book, Holy Humanity, is reviewed in the January 2016 issue of Awareness magazine.

Inspiration

One of Webster's many definitions of "inspiration" is "a divine influence upon human beings."  A common  verbal derivative of the term is "inspire" which means to infuse with life.  A lesser known cousin is a transitive verb "inspirit" which means "to put spirit into; give life to...," "to infuse" with life. It is this latter sense that is important to consider in the context of subtle energies.

One further term which begs definition is "life." In spite of the  branch of science we call "biology," sometimes called "the science of life," it has been difficult for scientists to pin down just exactly what life is--nor do we know where whatever it is originates.  One of humankind's modern quests has been to discover whether or not there is life elsewhere in the universe.  But how will we know what it is if we find it?  Just what are we looking for?  If life is something that is inspirited, as in Webster's definition above, how does one know whether or not any given living object embodies or is infused with spirit, thus giving it life?  To resort to an old conundrum, which came first--the chicken or the egg?  Did the chicken come from the  egg or the egg come from the chicken?  I think the answer is both and neither.  Life comes from the Spirit--whatever kind of life it is--plant, animal or human.  Our lives did not begin with the seemingly miraculous confluence of two cells, each dividing to make four cells, then eight,  then sixteen, ad infinitum, until we became fully formed human beings with trillions of cells.  Those first two cells, gifted to us by our parents, had beginnings elsewhere--or did they?  I would propose the wholly unscientific solution that our physical beings are the earthly home of Spirit which as such had no beginnings.  That is what it means to be eternal.  To be human is to be eternal, with neither beginning nor end.

Gregg Braden, quoting an article by molecular biologist Daniel E. Koshland, Jr. in the March 22, 2002 issue of Science offers seven determinates of whether or not something is living.  Living things, says Koshland...

1.  Must have a program to make copies of themselves.

2.  Adapt and evolve to reflect changes in their environment.

3.  Tend to be complex, highly organized, and have compartmentalized structures.

4.  Have a metabolism that allows them to convert energy from one form to another.

5.  Can regenerate parts of themselves, or their entire forms.

6. Can respond to their environment through feedback mechanisms.

7.  Can maintain multiple metabolic reactions at the same time.

 Though Koshland's criteria for life may indeed suffice for some living things,--perhaps weeds, mosquitoes and such--it is far too mechanistic and simplistic.  As such I find it a totally unsatisfying description of human life. In the first place, his and similar attempts to equate our human identity with our bodies fails to account for our physical existence, much less our psychic and spiritual endowments. Nor does he make any allowance  for the incredible complexity and depth of whatever it means to be living, functional beings.  Without the inclusion of Spirit human life is totally devoid of Life!  Apart from Spirit, we would not exist.

To be human is to be infused with Spirit.  Spirit is our essence.  We are the embodiment of Spirit.  Spirit is our eternal nature.  We were solely Spirit prior to our human birth.  We shall be solely Spirit after our physical death.  In our earthly sojourn we accept the yoke of physicality in order to accommodate our physical environment.  But our bodies are not our essence.  We are, first and foremost, spiritual beings, no less so than the angels of heaven.  Indeed, if the biblical author of the Letter to the Hebrews is right, we are the superiors of the angels. They are here to serve us, as the divine children of God that we are.  He writes...

"Are not all angels spirits in the divine service, sent to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation?"  (Hebrews 1:7-14).

In John's Gospel, "eternal life" supplants the phrase "Kingdom of God" which is the characteristic phrasing of the synoptic gospels.  Eternal Life is, in John's understanding, life under the rule of God, a life that is free from the constraints of time, decay and evil.  It is wholly a spiritual realm, preexistent and co-existent with this earthly life as well as a continuing life after our death in this earthly sojourn. Our essence does not change  just because we change addresses.  The life we live now is eternal life infused with the Spirit of God.  Apart from the life-giving infusion of the Spirit we would not exist.

So what is the situation with all the other creatures, both plant and animal, that appear to have characteristics we identify as life?  My conclusion is that they, too, are infused with Spirit.  They have their own life-callings, their own inspired roles to play in God's Kingdom.  As such they are due our respect and consideration as fellow inhabitants of God's Kingdom.  Whether they be weeds or trees, birds or fish or reptiles or insects,  they, too, are subject to God's rule and recipients of their own gifts of God's  spirit infusions.  And if, indeed, we have been charged with the responsibility for their care and welfare, we should take the responsibility seriously  as fellow participants in God's Kingdom.

I would suggest further that creatures in our folklore may be more real than fictitious.  Given the quite serious and contemporary explorations of quantum physics into parallel universes--i.e. parallel realities beyond those we can apprehend by our limited human senses--we may find that creatures such as elves, gnomes and other nature spirits actually exist.  Science has already demonstrated that there are many realities beyond the reach of our physical senses.  That some persons may have sensitivities that I do not have seems to me not just possible, but even likely.  That our Creator may have created more realities than just the reality my senses are tuned to, does not strike me as particularly strange.  The fact that I may never develop the  capability to personally perceive my mythological neighbors proves nothing.  That there are others who have developed such capabilities is reason enough to warrant an openness to whatever spiritual beings may exist.  After all, we humans are also, in essence, spiritual beings.  As noted above, apart from Spirit  we would not exist.  Perhaps nature spirits have as much trouble believing that we exist.

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