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Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Story of Economy

I had lots of insights from the Contemplative Alliance Symposium in which I participated a couple of days ago. I will channel some of my reflections here and then gather them into an article.

David Korten (Agenda for a New Economy, The Great Turning) presented the importance of changing our central narrative or creation story if we are to foster resilience and integration in our economic, ecological, and (I would add) political systems. And with this change of narrative comes a new metaphor for God.

We need to move past the agricultural age tribal story of a Distant Patriarch or (I would add) Nourishing Matriarch and past the industrial age story of classical science of a Starter God who makes and switches on the machine, maybe oiling it from time to time. Korten articulates the new image for God as Integral Spirit. This is a Teilhardian image of Consciousness present, emerging, and guiding all elements and systems of the universe.  It is also Wendall Barry's notion of Nature in the fullness of Being and Becoming. And it is the notion of Reality as portrayed by the new science and contemporary art appearing through rational inquiry (scientific method) and phenomenology of consciousness (artistic and religious imagination).

This story and image some of the participants pointed out is contained in and vies (usually unsuccessfully) in the scriptures and rituals of most of our religious traditions, e.g. the Cosmic Christ Spirit of Christianty, the Shekhinah of Judaism, the ruh of Sufi Islam, the Sunyatta or Annata of Buddhism.

Korten, citing some Pew Foundation studies, indicated that over 60% of the people have abandoned the   patriarchal God of the fundamentalist Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, and Muslim hierarchy but need avenues, language, and institutions to express the emerging imagination and narrative and that is a contemplative imperative. Certainly this was the vocation that Trappist monk Thomas Merton took seriously (and also with great humor) as my friend Bob Toth points out.

The old, angry white, usually Christian, men and their women in America are trapped in their belief systems, their limited images, by their own institutions even against their own interests. That is why they were so shocked by the last presidential election--much more than I would have been if it had gone differently (as I suspected it might). They will die out, as will I, hopefully leaving room for the young to bring in the new imagination to support the new economy, ecology, and polity which belongs to no one nation, party, or ideology.

Listening to all this I penned the following in my notes:

God, you do not love us. You are the Love we have for one another and the earth.
You do not tell us things. You are the Word we speak to power with each other.
You do not answer our prayers. You are the Solution emerging through our contemplation in action.
You do not dictate truths to us. You are the Truth we discover in our cooperative inquiry.
You do not judge us. You are the Good we intend in all creation.
You are not a person or thing. You are the personal, collective Consciousness that we become in our union with our selves, each other, and the universe.

Next: Redefining Economy.