Posted by: gcarkner | September 15, 2012

Spirituality & Politics

 When Mountain Meets Valley: Spirituality and Politics

We live in both a post-Christian and post-secular age. This means that as the tight grip of secularism has weakened (and diminishes), the interest in spirituality, contemplation and the meditative way are emerging yet again as valid ways of going and growing deeper in the inner journey. The fact we live in a pluralist ethos means that a plethora of spiritual traditions (both ancient and new) are in vogue. There is a definite and decided need for judicious discernment for those who enter through the spirituality portal.

There are many who have a passionate commitment to the spiritual quest, and they do the conference and retreat circuit (books aplenty read about the topic) with an avid and not to be denied interest. The journey to the inner terrain is explored and explained in ever deeper depth and detail. The distinction between the ego and false face (that which must be left behind) and the self and true face (which is the pure gold and diamond of reality) are lived into with sensitive probes. All sorts of meditative and contemplative techniques (and tribes differ on which technique is best and why) are used to being about the eternal slowdown and the insight into the true self that comes from such an inner mindfulness and attention.

There are those who assume the inward odyssey is the alpha and omega of the contemplative journey. Most of the wisest spiritual mothers and fathers never allowed the inner path taken to trump the outer trail taken. If Love is the end and purpose of our new being in Christ, then life in community and the public square are the marks of an authentic faith journey. The decoy duck of spirituality sans community and public witness can become an opiate like diversion if there is no transition from the insights gleaned on the mountain to compassion and justice for those who love much of their lives in the valley. There can be no doubt that life in community and the public square do demand their exacting dues, but it is in such places that the natural spiritual disciplines are most effective. When we retreat from such vocations and callings, spirituality becomes thin and politics and community tend to become ideological.

When the mountain peak of spirituality and the politics of valley life meet in gracious way, a much more mature, holistic and integrated faith journey is lived on this fragile earth our island home.

 Fiat Lux

~Ron Dart,  teaches in the Department of Political SciencePhilosophy and Religious Studies at University of the Fraser Valley. He is also an avid mountaineer.

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